I remember back in my days in financial services we had a rubber stamp in the office with a red ink pad that said "ACT NOW!" and where necessary we used to stamp it on client letters.
In later life we expect to perhaps become forgetful, but none of us believe that we could lose our mental capacity, because those sorts of things happen to other people, not us. After all ” I’m only 50, I’m only 60, I’m only 70″ etc. Mental decline may occur slowly over time or by a sudden event such as a stroke or accident. Of course you may be lucky and keep your mental capacity right up until your eventual demise.
However if we lose mental capacity and decisions need to be made about our property and affairs someone needs to make an application to the Court of Protection to act on our behalf. That someone may be a member of your family or even the local authority to extract the cost of any care. These appointed people are known as deputies.
This process entails Court fees of various types totalling approximately £800 and lawyer’s costs averaging £1500 from your own resources. A full statement of your financial affairs is submitted to the Court. In addition there will be a deputy’s charge for running your affairs and accounting up to £800 pa. At the end of that process it will not be someone you chose to act for you!
The better alternative is to act in advance and prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). While you have your mental capacity you can prepare the document to appoint a person or people to act for you that you choose in the event of loss of mental capacity. These people can be family or friends, but should of course be people you can trust.
What are the two types of LPA?
The most commonly executed LPA is the type for Property and Affairs which as the name suggests allows your chosen attorneys to undertake transactions with regard to your property and affairs, from the mundane day-to-day cash requirements all the way up to significant transactions such as selling or buying a home for you.
The less common, but arguably equally important, is the LPA for Health and Welfare. This allows your attorneys to act for you, organising your day-to-day care, including arrangements for medical, eye, or dental care. This document also gives you an option to choose whether your attorneys are to be involved with decisions about life sustaining treatment. This document can also be very important in allowing your attorneys to act in your best interests if you are involved with local authority care, asking the right questions and getting the best care for you.
Can my attorneys overrule me by saying “I’m dotty”?
The Mental Capacity Act has clear guidelines that are explicitly spelt out in the document. Your attorneys must assume that you can make your own decisions unless they establish that you cannot. Also your attorneys cannot treat you as unable to make decisions even if they judge those decisions to be unwise.
So in summary you should always be in control until it is established that you cannot make decisions.
Can I use the LPA when I have full mental capacity?
Providing you have not put any restrictions in the document the answer is Yes. This can be useful if say for example you have limited mobility or simply in old age. You can ask your attorneys to perform certain tasks and report back to you with the outcome. An example may be to visit a local bank or building society with regard to the maturity of a fixed rate bond.
How can I get an LPA in place?
You can prepare the documents yourself by going to the website of the Office of the Public Guardian at www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney or you can let a professional do the work to ensure the forms are completed correctly.
If you can ask Will You Ltd to prepare the documents for you here are the advantages :
- We visit you and explain the Lasting Power of Attorney
- We can explain to your chosen attorneys their role if they need guidance
- We complete the paperwork for you to sign
- We offer to guide you through the signing process
- We register the documents on your behalf until to have a valid registered document