Lasting Power of Attorney
Many people may not be aware of the consequences should you lose your mental capacity.
The number of people suffering from various forms of dementia is expected to rise by 63% in the next two decades. This does not even include those who may be incapacitated by coma in road traffic or general accidents.
These issues affect us all, young or old, yet many of us refuse to accept that there is even a risk of that happening.
Most of us would want someone we trust to look after our affairs if we became incapable of managing them and most would assume that or loved ones could just step in and take control of these affairs.
THIS IS NOT THE CASE.
If you have made no provision to appoint an ‘Attorney’ whilst you have your mental capacity, the Law will insist on protecting your interests if then you lose that capacity. This means that your family or friends would have to apply to the Court of Protection to ask to be granted ‘deputy’ status.
This is a lengthy and costly process, with typical estimates of up to six months delay and additional legal fees, before a hearing with the Court of Protection. During this time your financial affairs would be frozen.
This can cause unnecessary distress and expense at a time when your loved ones are trying to help you. Furthermore, it may be that they would be granted only limited power over your affairs.
For example, initially they might be granted power to only set up direct debits and nothing more. If they then need to deal with a further problem it would become necessary to make a new application, with additional charges and with subsequent delays, for every application made to the court.
You may be amazed that the Law takes this view, but remember the Law is trying to protect you from being defrauded or ill treated by another person. It might appear to be a sledgehammer to crack a nut, as in most cases, most people would trust their immediate family to do what is right at the time.
Being diagnosed with a serious illness is everybody’s worst fear. If that illness is progressive, you may only have a short time to address practical issues before symptoms take hold, or if the incapacity is the result of an accident, provision might not have been made and by then it is too late for you to do so. In this situation, family members would have to apply to the Court of Protection to act on your behalf.
How can you make sure your wishes are carried out entirely without further distress and additional cost for your loved ones?
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney is the only certain way to protect your interests in these circumstances. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 came into effect from October 1st 2007, with the Lasting Power of Attorney replacing the old Enduring Power of Attorney.
If you make this document in advance of any mental incapacity, you can name who you wish to become your Attorneys and the reaches and limitations of the powers that you want them to have.
All they then need to do is register the document with the Court at the appropriate time with the prevailing fee.
Taking this simple action can save hours of time, unnecessary expense and heartache for your loved ones.