The benefits of Lasting Power of Attorney
The BBC recently reported on an administrative issue for Thames Water that exemplified the benefits of creating a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Estelle Mendoza, aged 98, suffering with dementia and requiring round-the-clock care, had a direct debit set up with her water company. Initially on a £33 per month charge, this increased to £215 and she was charged as such for the period of six months, by which time her son noticed and challenged the provider. After many months, it was established that the increased charge was attributed to a leak in water pipes, enormously inflating the alleged use on her part.
The incident highlights a very important action undertaken by Mrs Mendoza some years ago: she made the necessary preparations by creating a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
An LPA is a legal document that authorises one or more of your chosen people, known as attorneys, to act on your behalf during your lifetime. They can make decisions on your behalf relating to your property, finances, bills and investments and also on decisions relating to your health, welfare and care. Whilst you have capacity, your attorneys can make decisions about your property and finances under your instruction; should you lose capacity to make those decisions, your attorneys can make decisions about your property, finances, health and care for the remainder of your life.
Most importantly, you can only create an LPA when you have the capacity to do so – therefore, had Mrs Mendoza not appointed her son many years ago, she would not have been able to create an LPA now. Her son would not have been able to act on her behalf simply by virtue of being her son and, so, should he have wanted to assist her, he would have needed to apply to the Court of Protection for Court approval to manage her affairs – a very costly and time-consuming process, far outweighing the time and money spent in creating an LPA.
Mrs Mendoza’s is one of many examples wherein a Lasting Power of Attorney ensures that someone is looked after at a time when they are unable to do so for themselves – comforting for both that individual and their loved ones. Of course, one must take the requisite advice in understanding the issues at hand, what LPAs can and cannot do for you and how they will function. Barker Gotelee are happy to advise you on this.
Thomas Lee is a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee, Ipswich Solicitors.