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Preparing for the future; Hay & Kilner Solicitors review the pros and cons of lasting powers of attorney.

LASTING Powers of Attorney (LPAs) were introduced a year ago to replace the old system of Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs) as part of the Mental Capacity Act.

This is designed to provide statutory protection for vulnerable people who are unable to look after their own affairs by making clear who can take decisions on their behalf, when and how. While EPAs signed before 1st October 2007 remain valid, two new types of LPA have been introduced; Personal Welfare and Property and Affairs. One year after the new legislation was introduced some clear trends have emerged.

The number of applications to the Office of the Public Guardian (the OPG) for a finance or health and welfare decision have significantly exceeded expectations. The public guardian and chief executive, Martin John said: "The introduction of the Mental Capacity Act has resulted in a high volume of applications to register Powers of Attorney, a sign that people are increasingly thinking about and planning for their futures."

Kirstin Cook, head of Hay & Kilner's private capital team, said: "We have many clients for whom we have completed LPAs. We ask our clients to consider what would happen if they had an accident, became seriously ill or simply were unable to deal with their affairs? We recommend to our clients that they consider appointing someone (an Attorney) who could look after their financial affairs and personal welfare if they became incapable."

However, the transition from EPA to LPA has had some teething problems.

One of the main differences between LPAs and EPAs is the length and complexity of the forms that a donor needs to complete. As such, practitioners have been forced to increase their legal charges for preparing the document. An LPA can only be used when it has been registered at a cost of pounds 150.

There has been widespread discontent amongst legal practitioners regarding the layout of the forms and the lack of certainty regarding the correct way in which they should be completed. This appears to have been recognised by the OPG and as a result, it is expected that amended forms will be released in early 2009.

There has also been concern about the length of time it is taking the OPG to deal with applications. The average minimum time it takes to register an LPA is two months.

However, in reality, it was taking significantly longer, particularly in the first few months of LPAs being in force.

Indeed, it has even been the case that a donor has died while their LPA registration application was being processed by the OPG. It seems to be the case that the unexpected numbers of LPAs has stretched the resources of the OPG to the extreme.

All of this should not deter you from having an LPA as it gives peace of mind that if you were to become incapable of managing your affairs, there is someone who will be able to make financial and welfare decisions on your behalf.

Although the forms are more complicated, Hay & Kilner's skilled team is able to guide you through them and arrange registration at the OPG.

INFORMATION

For further information on wills, trusts and estate planning please contact Kirstin Cook on (0191) 232-8345 or email: kirstin.cook@hay-kilner.co.uk or visit www.hay-kilner.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

ADVICE Kirstin Cook, of Hay & Kilner Solicitors.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 16, 2008
Words:558
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