Many of us don’t consider who would manage our affairs if we were no longer able to, but this is an important life planning point that should be given careful thought. Much like an insurance policy, a power of attorney may never be required, but there are consequences of not having one if you do lose mental capacity at some stage in your life.
A Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs allows you to appoint people who you have chosen to manage your bank accounts and/or investments, manage or sell property and pay your outgoings. This can only be used with your consent whilst ever you have capacity but can be useful to enable someone to do things on your behalf if you are away or finding it difficult to leave the house or to sign documentation. In the event that you lose capacity it can continue to be used for the whole of your lifetime.
A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare allows people to make decisions such as where you live and what you wear and eat and can only be used if and when you have lost capacity. This means that it would be your attorneys who would decide on whether to move you into residential care and not the local authority. You can also choose to give the attorneys authority to give or refuse consent to life sustaining treatment so that these decisions are made by people who you know and trust rather than by doctors.
If you are a business owner then you should also consider preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs specifically to deal with your business assets to enable the business to continue running if you become ill or are often away.
The choice of attorney(s) is an important one, and you must appoint individuals that you trust to act in your best interests. It may be appropriate to appoint different attorney(s) for your Financial Affairs and your Health and Welfare.
Our team can guide you through the process, prepare the lasting powers of attorney for you and act as certificate provider if required. The powers of attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used and we can handle this aspect as well.
If you, or a loved one, lose capacity and do not have a lasting power of attorney, then the only way of using your money and assets for your benefit is to make an application to the Court of Protection for someone to be appointed as a Deputy. This is a more time consuming process with greater costs involved and it is likely that an annual report would need to be filed. The Court of Protection will not normally authorise the appointment of a Deputy for Health and Welfare issues so such decisions would then be made by the local authority or medical professionals under statutory powers.