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The money saving expert warns of the importance of a Lasting Power of Attorney

By Catrin Lloyd

Published In: Wills and Probate

Martin Lewis delivered a critical message to the nation this week on The Martin Lewis Money Show. He cautioned that everyone should be getting a lasting power of attorney (LPA).

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Mr. Lewis explained: "One person in the UK develops dementia every three minutes. Yet relatives can't just walk into a bank and access your money, even if it is to pay for your care. Unless you have a power of attorney, loved ones would need to apply through court, which can be a long and costly process."

Dementia is only one of the many reasons you would use an LPA though. Without an LPA in place, if you were in a car crash and became comatose no-one could manage your affairs. If you don’t have an LPA, then your loved ones would need to apply to the Court of Protection to manage your affairs. Going through the Court of Protection for the ability to manage someone’s affairs is expensive, intrusive and time consuming.

Currently it takes up 20 weeks for an LPA to be processed and they are not effective until they are processed. If you lost capacity in that time, then the LPA isn’t necessarily legally binding. This makes it even more important to make sure you have an LPA in place before you need one.

If you are self-employed or a business owner, it’s best to have an LPA for your personal and business affairs. In this situation having an LPA naming someone who knows and understands your business is critical to its smooth running.

Whilst you can register an LPA for £82 it’s best to get a solicitor’s advice to ensure you include the right things. We safeguard your interests and ensure you know the process, and the implications if something were to happen.

Some of our frequently asked question:

Who can be my attorney?

Your attorney can be anyone you trust, who is over 18 and hasn’t been bankrupt before. However, this is an important job so it must be someone you wholly trust to act on your behalf. If you were incapacitated they would be able to sell your home, so trusting them is crucial.

Can I have more than one attorney?

Yes, and in some cases, this has benefits as it provides checks and balances on the attorneys behaviour. You can set up your attorneys jointly, meaning all decisions are made together. Alternatively, they can be jointly and severally meaning they can act together or separately as they choose. We discuss the benefits and reservations to each and will look at your situation to help you make the best decision for you.

What decisions can an attorney make?

This depends on what type of power of attorney you have. For a financial attorney they can make decisions on and access your:

  • money, tax and bills
  • bank and building society accounts
  • property and investments (including selling your property)
  • pensions and benefits

A health and welfare attorney looks after things like your:

  • daily routine, for example washing, dressing and eating
  • medical care
  • where you live

What are the benefits of using a solicitor?

  • We are impartial and understanding - there’s no risk of manipulation or abuse of trust
  • We are experienced in creating LPAs - we guide you through the ins and outs, advising you clearly on the process and helping you
    make informed choices
  • We work with you to get it right first time - if you register an LPA and get something wrong you will have to pay again to make changes
  • We are regulated - meaning you are in safe hands and we work hard to get you the best outcomes
  • We ensure your potential attorneys truly understand what they are committing to - as people often underestimate the task being asked of them
  • We will make sure your LPA can’t later be challenged - we evidence you are of sound mind when setting up your LPA

Got questions? Give us a ring on 0800 1380 458 or drop us a line through the website . Whenever you need us, we're here to help.

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Catrin qualified as a Solicitor in 2005. She is a Director at Switalskis and is Head of our Wills and Probate department.

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