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Lasting Powers Of Attorney Are Crucial As Mental Health Declines

Lasting powers of attorney are a crucial consideration
As mental health issues increase

1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year

As World Mental Health Day approaches (Monday 10 October), Hodge Jones & Allen is highlighting the importance of making sure your loved ones understand the benefits of putting in place Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) in case they lose their mental capacity at a later stage.

When someone loses the ability to make their own decisions through mental illness, there are important decisions that will still need to be made. These may include buying, renting or selling property, accessing funds in bank accounts to pay for or cancel existing financial commitments, as well as arranging medical care and how it will be financed. If the person already has an LPA in place before their capacity to make their own decisions is lost, it means the appointed attorney or attorneys are able to make decisions on their behalf immediately.

If an individual has not put in place an LPA before they lose their mental capacity, it can leave family members in a tricky situation. It can mean nobody is able to make any of the important decisions outlined above on their behalf. Often the only solution is for the family to make an application to the Court of Protection, where they will apply to become a Deputy. However, this will be a much lengthier process than the time it takes to register an LPA. It is also more costly as the Court of Protection application alone is £365 compared to the £82 fee to register an LPA. Legal costs for Court of Protection applications will almost always be much more than legal costs to register LPAs.

In addition, a Deputyship requires the Deputy to keep detailed accounts and report all spending and decisions made to the Office of the Public Guardian on an annual basis. This is not required if acting as an attorney under an LPA.

Rafael Singer, Senior Associate on the Wills & Probate Team at HJA comments: “Having Lasting Powers of Attorney in place before a crisis is key when a loved one is dealing with mental health issues. As Mental Health Day approaches, we encourage families to take a moment and think about these decisions. Who will need to be cared for? Who will be the one to make the tough decisions? When we set these actions in place ahead of time, the person can be cared for in the appropriate manner, without panic or upset. With Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, it’s one less decision that doesn’t have to be made at an emotional time.

“Coming off the back of a pandemic, mental health issues are an increasing and exceptionally challenging concern for families that have had loved ones struggle over the last two years. According to the Mental Health Foundation, it has particularly affected people already in care for pre-existing diagnoses. It therefore seems particularly appropriate for us to raise awareness of the importance of LPAs this year.”

The most common issue faced with LPAs is that many families don’t even consider putting them in place until they’ve been faced with the related difficulties first-hand. An LPA should be thought of as an insurance document where you’ll pay a small premium to take one out and then you can file it away for when it may be needed.

World Mental Health Day is just one day of the year to think about loved ones and their future care. HJA is ready to welcome any questions about Lasting Powers of Attorney and the responsibilities that come with it.