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A high net worth pensioner, who was reluctant to give up control of his fortune and laid down intricate conditions before signing a lasting power of attorney (LPA), has struck a blow for the right of everyone to choose how their assets should be dealt with if they lose the capacity to make decisions for themselves.
The man, aged in his 70s, owned a string of properties around the world and was concerned about what would happen to his assets if he lost the ability to manage his own affairs. By the LPA, he appointed three close friends and business associates to apply his wealth in his best interests if he was no longer able to make decisions for himself.
However, he had been 'in the driving seat' throughout his highly successful life and was not willing to give his attorneys free rein. In a seven-page document, he set out detailed restrictions on what they should, and should not, do with his assets. He also insisted that his lack of capacity to make decisions for himself had to be unequivocally confirmed by a psychiatrist before the attorneys could do anything at all.
When his lawyers tried to register the LPA, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) refused on the basis that the conditions would render the arrangement unworkable. In overturning that decision, however, the Court of Protection gave effect to the pensioner's wishes, however unwise some might consider them to be.
Although the LPA would be 'less effective' due to the restrictions, the Court found that the pensioner was entitled to insist upon them 'for his own reassurance and peace of mind'. His preferences deserved to be treated with respect and the OPG had no right to 'make a paternalistic judgment on his behalf'. The LPA, as drafted, would not be ineffective and the OPG was directed to register it.