Seize the power: Half a million more families protect their finances from serious illness

Half a million more families across the UK have acted to protect their financial affairs from unexpected illness or serious injury by instructing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), according to new data released today.

The research, uncovered by law firm Moore Barlow under a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice, revealed that there were 540,493 LPAs registered between January and June this year – a 26% increase on the 436,930 set up in the first six months of 2021. 

An LPA is a legal document that allows family members or close friends to make key financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you lose the mental capacity as a result of illness or injury.

Despite the rise, research from the law firm also revealed that more than seven in ten Brits (72%) don’t have an LPA in place, putting the management of their finances and their health and welfare at risk should anything happen to them.

Most people assume they can manage their loved one’s finances in an emergency, but this isn’t the case.

Alexandra Milton, partner in the private client team at Moore Barlow, says the firm has seen a significant increase in families looking to secure their personal affairs in the event of a serious accident or illness.

“People have become more conscious of ensuring their personal affairs are in order should anything happen to them since the pandemic and the heightened awareness around dementia and other life-changing illnesses.

“While it’s encouraging to see more people take action and register an LPA, there are still large swathes of the population who are putting the management of their affairs at risk. Nobody likes to think about suddenly falling ill but if you should lose capacity, no one, not even your husband, wife or a close relative, has any authority to act on your behalf unless appointed under a power of attorney.

“Failure to execute a Lasting Power of Attorney could lead to your loved ones having to apply to the Court to seek authority to manage your affairs. This is a time consuming and expensive process and one which should not be relied upon.

“LPAs can only be used once they’re registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. Current delays within the courts are impacting the length of time it is taking applications to be processed, with some clients waiting up to a year.  It is difficult to watch families who are struggling with the emotional side of seeing their loved one in a health crisis never mind navigating the minefield of the Court of Protection to seek authority to manage their loved one’s finances, which would ordinarily have been covered by having an LPA in place.”

There are two types of LPAs to deal with financial and property affairs, and health and welfare decisions. The legal document must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

About the research

A nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults were surveyed by market research firm Censuswide between 29th September and 10th October.