Lawyers from City of London-based law firm, Carter Lemon Camerons LLP are encouraging people to think about putting Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) in place.
The warning has been prompted by a sharp rise in the number of people living with dementia. According to the latest figures from Alzheimer’s Society, there are currently some 850,000 people who have been diagnosed with dementia in the UK – a number which it estimates will hit one million by 2025.
Crucially, the loss of mental capacity means that a person is no longer able to make important decisions for themselves.
In England and Wales, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 protects people aged 16 and older who have lost their mental capacity. The Act enables people in this position to make as many decisions as they can for themselves for as long as they are able to.
As many neurological conditions are progressive, the Act also makes provision for individuals to appoint another person to make such decisions on their behalf by setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
Neil Acheson-Gray, a Partner at Carter Lemon Camerons LLP and head of the firm’s Private Client department, said that families need to be aware that these are two very different types of LPA available.
“A Property and Affairs LPA enables the person appointed to handle their friend or relative’s financial and property affairs, while those who wish to appoint someone to make welfare decisions on their behalf will need a Personal Welfare LPA,” he said.
Neil said that an LPA could be drafted at potentially any time in order to ensure people are protected against all eventualities. However, he added that it was important for families to seek specialist advice from a solicitor.
“An LPA must be registered before use with the Office of the Public Guardian,” he said.
“A certificate provider must also certify that the person making the LPA fully understands it and the process can be confusing for those who are unfamiliar with it.”