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Demand for lasting power of attorney rises but many still not getting the message

18 May 2015

Nearly 330,000 are expected to apply for LPAs this year with annual growth of around 12%, analysis shows

But more than 14,000 families a year need to apply to Court of Protection when relatives become incapacitated

Applications for Lasting Powers of Attorney are set to grow to more than 330,000 this year as retirement savers and their families wake up to the growing need for control over their finances especially in the light of the new pension freedoms and drawdown equity release, analysis from Key Retirement shows.

Figures from the leading over-55s financial specialist show applications are expected to grow by around 12% this year from 295,000, compared to just 80,000 a year when they were launched in 2007.

But Key, one of the UK's largest arrangers of wills and LPAs, is warning that the increased financial flexibility from pension freedoms and growing use of drawdown equity release plans makes it even more important retired savers have LPAs enabling relatives or friends to deal with an individual's affairs.

Government figures show an average of 14,250* applications a year have been made to the Court of Protection over the past three years to appoint deputies to make financial or health decisions for incapacitated people who did not have LPAs.

The launch of Dementia Awareness Week highlights that there are around 800,000 people with the condition in the UK, and the disease costs the economy £23 billion a year. By 2040, the number of people affected is expected to double - and the costs are likely to treble.**

Key advises customers taking out drawdown equity release to have LPAs in place so trusted people can make decisions on their behalf, and it believes that will become more important following the introduction of pension freedom.

 Dean Mirfin, technical director at Key (www.keyadvice.co.uk), said: "Sales of LPAs are growing and it is reassuring to see the strong demand as people focus on their potential needs in later life.

"However there is still a huge need for more people to be made aware of the importance of having an LPA in place, particularly now that financial flexibility is open to all and more of us will be managing our finances into later life.

"Numbers affected by dementia are set to double over the next 25 years and it's essential that families avoid a costly and time consuming court process. LPAs should be regarded just the same as Wills and be part of all people's financial planning for later life and the risks of incapacity that unfortunately brings. With 65% of the equity release market in drawdown people need to be made aware of the risks of not having an LPA.

"Anyone who is exercising the pension freedoms or has a drawdown equity release scheme is totally exposed to having their money trapped or frozen if they do not have LPAs until the Court of Protection appoints attorneys. For equity release this means that access to any drawdown facility will be suspended whilst waiting on the court."

Applications to the Court of Protection for those who don't have LPAs can be time-consuming and costly - in some cases a solicitor may be appointed and their ongoing fees added to the bill - with all costs taken from the estate of the person who has lost capacity. The process of appointing a deputy can take many months and sometimes years. The appointed attorneys may not be those people you would necessarily have nominated and therefore trusted yourself.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which gives the person or persons of choice the power to deal with an individual's affairs. These trusted people will then become legally appointed attorneys and will be able to use these documents to act on the person's behalf whenever necessary.

There are two types - the property and financial affairs LPA covering money and property matters, which can be used at any time and even made temporary use of, and the health and welfare LPA covering healthcare decisions which can only be used if people lose mental capacity.

Key Retirement offers an LPA and Will writing service and anyone looking to find out more can call   0808 208 4012 or visit: www.keyadvice.co.uk/wills-lpas