Forward Planning – James Palmer talks about the benefits of making Lasting Powers of Attorney

Many people are aware of the benefit of making Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) but most are less au fait with what happens should they lose their mental capacity without having put an LPA in place.
– James Palmer, Solicitor in Private Client Department.

As a solicitor working in the Private Client Department at Fraser Dawbarns LLP, a large part of my job is dealing with Powers of Attorney. I am often contacted by people saying that their Mum or Dad need to put an LPA in place, as they have dementia, suffered a stroke, or something similar.

Sadly, in many of these cases it is too late to make an LPA. This is because there are strict legal rules stating that the person must be able to understand the purpose of the LPA, and the extent of the powers they are giving their attorneys. In such circumstances the only alternative route is a Deputyship Order. This will have the same outcome as an LPA, i.e. someone will be appointed to manage the person’s affairs on their behalf. However, the process is a costly and time consuming one due to the amount of information that must be provided to the Court before they make a decision.
It is understandable that an application for a Deputyship Order requires more hoops to be jumped through. This is due to the fact that anyone can apply to be someone’s deputy. As such, the Court of Protection, who oversees these applications, takes more care over appointing a Deputy.

In terms of costs, the Court Fee for a Deputyship Order application is £400, in comparison with the £110 Registration Fee to put an LPA in place. In addition to this, a medical report for the person in question needs to be obtained. This can cost between £100 and £200 + VAT. Further, if a deputy is appointed, they are required to pay for a security bond to protect the assets they are managing. The above costs are even before taking into account legal fees.

When preparing an application for a Deputyship Order, the Court of Protection initially sets such costs at £850 + VAT. However, the solicitor may quote a higher fee if the matter is a more complex one. By way of comparison, the fixed fee to prepare, execute and register one’s Property & Finances LPA with Fraser Dawbarns LLP is £400 + VAT, and £650 + VAT for a couple. Further, if a couple wanted to put in place LPAs for both their Property & Finances and their Health & Welfare, our costs would be £900 + VAT.

At the end of the day, even putting costs aside, when you make an LPA you are making a positive choice as to who you want to manage your affairs should you be unable to, based on your own knowledge, preferences, and who you trust most to manage your affairs as is best for you. Also, with an LPA already in place your attorneys can step in immediately, if needed.

The alternative would be leaving you and your family exposed to the additional stress, cost and time of applying for a Deputyship Order. In addition, it is likely that the management of your finances will grind to a halt whilst the application is being considered, not to mention that a successfully appointed deputy may not have been your first choice to manage your affairs.

With my clients I often compare LPAs to insurance. It is something you hope you will not have to call upon. However, if it is required it is absolutely invaluable to you and your family.

If you would like advice on Lasting Powers of Attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us.

This article was featured in the High Summer 2016 Issue of North Norfolk Living Magazine.