What would happen if you were unable to manage your financial affairs or make important healthcare decisions?
Many people incorrectly assume that if someone is no longer capable of making decisions about their finances or healthcare, that family members would be able to step up and make these decisions on their behalf.
Unfortunately, spouses, children or others who may be considered next of kin do not automatically have any legal authority to do so. Understandably, this can cause a variety of practical complications regarding the management of someone’s finances, selling their property, or making decisions about their healthcare, especially if it coincides with having to go into a residential home.
If someone loses capacity, there are two ways that a person, or people, can be appointed to assist them with their affairs – through the Courts as a Deputy or under a Lasting Power of Attorney signed by the person before they lost capacity.
Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document created whilst the person (donor) still has capacity, and it allows them to appoint one or more persons (‘attorney’) to act on their behalf. These have to be created at a time you have capacity as a safeguard against an accident or illness in the future.
There are two types of Power of Attorney, once covering Health and Welfare, and the other traditional document covering Property and Financial affairs. You can choose to enable your Attorneys to act once the form is completed or restrict it to circumstances where you have lost capacity. During the pandemic the former option was a great assistance to our clients who found themselves isolating for long period of time as Attorneys could support them externally and can assist elderly clients who still have capacity but may struggle with other health concerns to carry out tasks such as visiting the bank, organising utilities online or over the telephone.
Deputy orders have the Court appoint someone to act on a person’s behalf, which may be a professional deputy rather thana family member and can cover financial and / or welfare matters.
The application to be appointed a Deputy is costly, detailed, has to be supported by medical evidence and can be a lengthy process with up to a year not being uncommon. Once granted, the Court also retain an oversight with annual supervision and annual accounts being required to be submitted, all of which carry additional fees.
Would You Like Want Peace of Mind?
A Power of Attorney is much like an insurance policy – you may never need it, but it is a great help if you do. It can give the peace of mind of choosing someone you trust to look after your affairs once you can no longer do so and it is a much quicker and cost-effective way of appointing someone than the process of the Courts appointing a Deputy. If you would like to consider the security of putting a Power of Attorney in place, or you would like a helping hand with a Deputy application, contact our specialist team at your local office, use our online contact form, or email email@example.com.