Understanding Power of Attorney: What it isGetting a Power of Attorney lets you choose who will look after you when you can no longer look after yourself.
The legal document also lets you appoint someone to manage your affairs when you’re abroad, in hospital, or otherwise unable to do then yourself. The person acting on your behalf is known as an attorney – and you’ll want to choose your LPA attorney carefully.
You can find out more in our complete guide to Power of Attorney.
‘Worrying gaps’ in LPA knowledgeBut, according to Which?, while 85% knew what a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) was, the group ‘found worrying gaps’ and ‘misconceptions’ surrounding the issue.
16% of those surveyed believed once a Power of Attorney is registered, you instantly lose control over your finances. Which isn’t true – Power of Attorney helps you retain control even when you’re no longer capable.
In truth, there are stringent laws around how an attorney can act on your behalf. And those actions can be challenged by loved ones and the courts if it’s believed an attorney is not acting in your best interests.
Which? also found many didn’t realise that a Power of Attorney must be made before you need it. If you lack the mental capacity, the document would be considered invalid – and your loved ones would need to pay a lot more money to obtain a Court of Protection deputyship.
Reasons to get Power of AttorneyThe survey also uncovered reasons why some people choose not to get a Power of Attorney. 77% believed an LPA could be made at any time, which isn’t true. And 70% claimed ‘they were healthy so did not need one.’
Power of Attorney is a bit like an insurance document. You hope you don’t need it later in life, but it’s there just in case – because who knows what life may throw at us?
Awareness was found to be most lacking across younger generations and those on lower incomes.
20% of people earning less than £21,000 a year said they didn’t know what an LPA was. And nor did 26% of those surveyed who were between 18-34 years old.
But Power of Attorney is right for anyone, at any age (well, so long as they’re over 18 and possess mental capacity to make decisions for themselves right now).
Modernising Power of AttorneyThe Which? report comes as the government are trying to modernise the LPA process. A consultation was carried out mid-to-late 2021. Feedback is currently being analysed.
However, Jenny Ross, Money Editor at Which?, believes, ‘the creaking power of attorney system needs urgent improvement, particularly to address the public’s lack of awareness of how the process works.’
‘Government proposals to modernise LPAs – such as introducing a fast-tracking service, digitising the registration process and improving awareness – are much needed to make the system fit for purpose in the 21st century.’
And The Law Superstore makes it simple to find a solicitor online and get Power of Attorney now.
For more help, visit The Law Superstore Power of Attorney help & advice hub.