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BBC1's The One Show Makes Me Think About LPAs

I don’t seem to have time to manage my domestic life – simple tasks such as getting dry cleaning to the cleaners, booking my car for its MOT, or hunting out the best insurance deals are hard enough to do, and so the chances of me finding time to visit my lawyer to discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) is way down the list of day to day priorities (and I work for a law firm!).  

But after a busy day at work I found myself catching part of BBC1’s The One Show on Monday evening and it made me think.  Once again they were talking about LPAs, highlighting the plight of a woman whose husband was left in a coma for 3 years as a result of an accident.  With no EPA (Enduring Power of Attorney) or LPA in place, she was left with a battle in order to take control of the family's finances – the whole process sounded fraught and complicated, with numerous applications being made to the Court of Protection.  

The show also highlighted that ‘…the court is still seeing high levels of complaints and in December the President of the Court of Protection Sir Mark Potter announced he was setting up an ad hoc committee to review the Court's rules once again.’

So on Tuesday morning I was straight on the phone to partner and head of private client - Edward Rees.  What did he think about all of this?

He commented “Service levels from the Court and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) for the first year or so after the introduction of the new Mental Capacity Act in October 2007 were abysmal.  Whilst things are still tricky, my experience is that service is, without doubt, better.  I think the gradual improvements, are largely down to the efforts of the new Public Guardian, Martin John.  He is young, very dynamic and genuinely wants to deliver improvement and innovation.  One of his first changes was to relocate the OPG’s offices from central London to Birmingham – intended to provide a better pool of labour at reduced cost.  Unfortunately there can’t be a quick fix, but I believe Martin is the man to drive the changes forward.”

I asked Edward whether he and his team always raise the importance of LPAs with clients – particularly those coming in to discuss the drafting of Wills.

“We certainly do, but these additional documents are not cheap to put in place.  The Law Society are looking at ways to promote their importance, but as you discussed at the top of this blog, day to day priorities often push Wills and LPAs way down the list of things to do.”

So Edward, how can we encourage people to consider LPAs?

“I guess it’s just a question of reinforcing the point and being creative about how we get the message out.  For example, 12 months ago I didn’t know what Twitter was – now I’m blogging and tweeting away with the best of them! 

Of course, when traumatic events touch our personal lives it makes us think, and such circumstances can make us take action.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to stress to clients they consider LPAs and, as ever, look at ways of offering the best possible service at the most competitive rates.”

As a result of the power of Twitter and our existing relationship with BBC Radio Shropshire, Edward was invited onto the Breakfast Show this morning (Wednesday 13 January 2010).  You can listen to what Edward had to say for the next 7 days by going to Eric Smith’s show on BBC Radio Shropshire’s iPlayer.

Finally Edward wrote an interesting Blog on the Impacts of Lasting Powers of Attorney back in November – click on the Lasting Powers of Attorney tag below to take you the blog.