Only a third of over 50s say they have held or currently hold a lasting power of attorney for a loved one, according to research by Saga Legal Solutions*. The reason for this could be that people believe organising a lasting power of attorney (LPA) is complex and something that should be left until later in life when they are more likely to need to use it.
Whilst the thought of appointing someone to act for you if you become incapacitated is not a topic many like to think about and can be quite emotional, the implications of not having an LPA when you need one can cause an even bigger strain on the family.
If someone is suddenly unable to make their own decisions through accident or illness, if they do not have an LPA in place, their family will need to apply to the Court of Protection in order to be appointed as a Deputy to act on their loved ones behalf. This is a lengthy and intrusive process and can cost hundreds if not thousands of pounds to put in place** and with further costs and supervision each year.
Without an LPA people will find themselves powerless to do even the simplest things on their loved ones behalf, such as pay their bills or decide on their daily routine.
Obtaining an LPA is, of course, a thorough process - as is only right given the wide powers it grants someone over another's affairs, but it is made less stressful with the right help and advice.
Saga Legal Solutions offer a service that can ease the journey to obtaining power of attorney, with fixed fees agreed in advance. The cost of obtaining an LPA varies considerably, for example an LPA for one person would cost £259.38 with Saga, but could be as much as £445 with Barclays.*** Saga will also register the LPA for customers, who will need to pay the registration fee to the Office of the Public Guardian, however Saga will not charge additional fees for the registration, which are often levied by other providers.
Saga's research shows that even those who have gone through the process of obtaining an LPA can face problems dealing with a variety of institutions from government departments through to banks and utility companies when it comes to trying to exercise their Power of Attorney on behalf of their loved one.
One in three say that staff do not appear to be trained to know what LPA means and what their company process is to action one. One in four report that they find themselves having to continually show certified documents to the same company every time they deal with them.
A fifth (19%) say that they have been unable to deal with their loved one's affairs online and 17% say they were told they could not open or close accounts on their behalf. This is of particular concern, as legally an attorney is entitled to take exactly the same action as the donor would have been able to.
Saga's Legal Essentials package offers unlimited personal legal advice 24 hours a day, which can provide advice and support to people about how to use their LPA and what to do when faced with difficult organisations.
Roger Ramsden, chief executive, Saga Services, commented: "Obtaining a lasting power of attorney saves families an enormous amount of heartache when a loved one becomes incapacitated. For the individual who has granted an LPA it also puts their mind at rest that they will have someone they trust acting on their behalf if the worst happens. Getting the right advice and support is key."
Saga Legal Essentials is available for a fixed fee of just £45 (or £30 to existing Saga customers). Customers with Saga Legal Essentials receive a 20% discount off the price of other Saga Legal Services, including Lasting Power of Attorney.
Notes to editors
*Research conducted by the Saga Populus panel amongst 1504 adults who have used a Lasting Power of Attorney between 19th - 26th October 2012.
**Cost of becoming appointed Deputy via the Court of Protection
Application fee £400
Deputy Assessment fee £100
Supervision fee £320 (each year)
Minimum supervision fee £35 (each year and this cannot be waived)
*** Price comparison for obtaining Lasting Power of Attorney. Prices correct as at August 2012
||Age UK |
| Cost of single LPA for one person