WHAT HAPPENS IF I CAN’T COPE WHEN I GET OLD OR HAVE AN ACCIDENT?
It is sad to say that unfortunately we are not immortal and may in old age or following a serious accident not be able to look after our affairs. Unless you have everything in joint accounts with your husband/wife/civil partner or other members of your family, the chances are that if you lose any form of mental ability to handle your own affairs then you could become one of thousands of people who are caught out.
Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (as amended) the Law clearly states that if a person has not made adequate provision for dementia and other related conditions then the Court of Protection can appoint deputies to act on your behalf. Those persons may be not of your choosing, however there is a solution.
A LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY (LPA)
WHAT IS A LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY (LPA)?
A Lasting power of Attorney is a legally drawn up document or set of documents that allow you as the “Donor” to appoint up to four close or distant family members, friends or even ourselves as your “Attorney” or “Donee”.
You may choose to have either a “Financial LPA”, whereby you are granting permission for your Attorney(s) to act only in relation to your property, bank/building society etc OR a “Health LPA” whereby you are granting permission for your Attorney(s) to act only in relation to health related matters.
You may also have both or a pair of Lasting Powers of Attorney, which will cover every aspect of your life.
BUT WHAT IF I ALREADY HAVE AN ENDURING POWER OF ATTORNEY?
Just because you have an Enduring Power of Attorney, this does not stop you taking out a Lasting Power of Attorney; in fact the recommendation is to have both especially for “Health and Welfare” matters. HOW DOES IT WORK?
As a Donor you are appointing someone to act on your behalf, or essentially become you in most/all financial/health related dealings.
The documents must be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian (formally The Court of Protection) before they can be used by the Attorney. However when these documents have been registered they do not/cannot be used until the Donor deemed to be mentally incapable/physically incapable of handling his/her own affairs.
The Attorney is then required to register the “Financial” document at the Donor’s bank, building society, financial institution and with the local authority and utility companies.
The “Health” document is registered with the local General Practitioner, Hospital, Residential care Home and Nursing Home, Social Services and Local Authority. These third parties then know to approach the Attorney in relation to the Donor in the first instance.
BUT DON’T THE EXECUTORS OF MY WILL HAVE THE SAME POWER?
Sadly your Executors only become involved in your affairs after your death, however you may wish to consider appointing your executor(s) as your Attorney(s) for a seamless transposition from life to death.
I’M MARRIED OR IN A CIVIL PARTNERSHIP, SURELY MY HUSBAND/WIFE/PARTNER CAN ACT FOR ME?
Sadly again unless you have joint accounts no-one will accept instructions from a third party unless prior authority has been given.
With the advent of the Data Protection Act if an account etc is in your sole name then only you have the power to speak to the holding institution, however once you have answered all the security questions you may be able to pass the call on to your spouse/partner, but only at the discretion of holding institution. For the cost of a decent television you can cover yourself in your old age and allow your loved ones to keep you where you would like to be!
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