Lasting Power of Attorney
Have you thought about who would manage your money, property, collect your benefits and pay your bills if you were unable to do so? You may need assistance from a family member or friend if you:
- Lose your mental capacity
- Were diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Were in an accident
- Have to go into hospital
- Go abroad for long periods
- Or just as you become older and feel less able to deal with matters on your own
If you do not have appropriate arrangements in place and lose mental capacity or if there is any question over your ability to make decisions for yourself, your family will not be able to access money from your bank accounts to maintain you or to pay your care fees, without obtaining a court order from the Court of Protection. Having to apply for a court order can often take around eight months and your family would not have access to your money during this time.
How we can help you:
To avoid these problems, you can take steps now to put in place a legal document called a ‘Lasting Power of Attorney’.
Within the document, you can choose someone you trust to manage your affairs. You can detail any restrictions on their powers you wish to make, e.g. if you do not want them to sell your house.
You can appoint more than one person to deal with things for you and also specify somebody in reserve if for any reason your chosen attorney is prevented from acting on your behalf.
You can also include a condition that the document can only be used if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself.
A Lasting Power of Attorney has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian by either you or your attorney before it can be used. You can nominate somebody else you trust to be notified before the Lasting Power of Attorney is registered so they have the opportunity of raising any concerns. You are not prevented from continuing to manage your own financial affairs if you wish to do so, even once the Lasting Power of Attorney is registered.
Whilst you retain mental capacity you can cancel the Lasting Power of Attorney at any time. It cannot be amended without preparing a new document so it is important that the information you put in the document is right first time.
If you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself and do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, decisions about who will handle your affairs and what they can and cannot do, will be made by the Court of Protection and not you.
We can help you to make a Lasting Power or Attorney and also to register it at the Office of the Public Guardian.
What should I do now?
If you are interested in making a Lasting Power of Attorney, registering a Lasting Power of Attorney that you have already made or would like us to visit you at your home for a free consultation, please contact Claire Fuller in our Wills & Probate department for further information.