For many, the sound of the introductory music for favourite soaps is a standard part of our evenings and, recently, Coronation Street has highlighted the importance of people using Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) to help plan for who will manage their finances and make medical and care decisions, should they lose capacity. There are two types of LPAs - one for property and financial affairs, and one for health and welfare. The property and financial affairs LPA can be used to support someone with their finances all the while they have capacity (albeit only at their direction) but continues to be effective if they lose capacity in the future. The health and welfare LPA can only be used when someone is unable to make health and welfare decisions themselves, with autonomy for those decisions retained all the while someone has capacity. LPAs are useful for everyone to have in place as the only other way to appoint someone to make decision on behalf of a person lacking capacity would be to make, an application to the Court for a deputyship order, which takes time and can be expensive.
Audrey Roberts, a long-standing character of Coronation Street, has been coming under pressure from her family, namely her grandson David, to put in place LPAs because he thinks he can use the property and financial affairs LPA to change Audrey’s will. In the storyline, Audrey announces following an accident that she wants to leave her estate to the Weatherfield Association of Retail Traders (WARTs), rather than to her family, with the donation made in memory of her late husband, Alfie. Her family are unhappy about the donation to WARTs and set wheels in motion to try and get Audrey to change her will. However, her grandson David is wrong – an LPA cannot be used to change someone’s will. The will could only be changed by Audrey while she has capacity or, if she loses capacity, then by an application to the Court. There are steps her family could take after her death to challenge the will on the grounds of lack of capacity, an area our contentious probate team advise on.
Emily Deane TEP and Head of Government Affairs at STEP (an internationally recognised body for private client lawyers) has been assisting Coronation Street with the storyline to ensure that the powers which LPAs give to attorneys is correctly represented to the public. We are grateful to Emily for her contribution to the storyline to help avoid misconceptions about LPAs being portrayed to the public. The storyline illustrates the need for greater knowledge and understanding about how LPAs work and, particularly, the scope of authority that attorneys have once they are appointed. It is therefore key for anyone putting in place LPAs to take advice about the nature, effect and powers contained within the documents. For more information about LPAs, please click here.