Clients should always consider whether they or an elderly relative need to draw up a Lasting Power of Attorney.

For data protection reasons, banks, utility companies, pension companies and HM Revenue & Customs refuse to discuss their account holder’s affairs with anyone but the account holder. This can be very frustrating for someone who is trying to help out a relative or friend.

Clients are naturally concerned that if they become mentally or physically infirm that someone can step in to look after their finances.

The best solution to these problems is to draw up a Lasting Power of Attorney or ‘LPA’ for short. The LPA allows someone to appoint one or more attorneys to act on their behalf. There are two types of LPA. The first covers a person’s property and financial affairs. The second covers their Health and Welfare, including making decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment.

LPAs replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney in October 2007. Enduring Powers of Attorney drawn up before that date are still valid. If you have one, you do not need to replace it with an LPA. Remember though that Enduring Powers of Attorney can only cover your financial and property affairs.

A person can only draw up an LPA if they have mental capacity. Someone with advanced dementia cannot enter into one. Instead their family would have to apply to the Court of Protection to become Deputies. This is a much more expensive and time-consuming process.