Property and Financial Affairs
If you lose your mental capacity through illness or accident, nobody has an automatic right to take over control of your money and assets. Your wife, husband or partner has no right to manage your affairs, and bank accounts may be frozen, including joint accounts. The process of gaining control of the assets of someone in this position is complex and protracted, and takes a MINIMUM of 5 months. A full application would need to be made to the Court of Protection and this process can be expensive with ongoing costs. Importantly, until the process has been completed, bills may go unpaid and properties cannot be sold. This can lead to hardship and upset at the worst possible time.
While many people hope and believe that this won’t happen to them, loss of capacity is probably more common than you think. Accidents or illnesses like strokes can lead to sudden, permanent loss of mental capacity and untold problems for the heartbroken family, while dementia seems to be ever more pervasive.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (Property and Financial Affairs) is a document that names people you trust to act on your behalf should you become mentally incapacitated. Timing is crucial with this document which is why we suggest you set it up at the same time as you make your Will. LPAs are not just for older people as mental incapacity can arise from an illness or an accident as well as age. If you think of a Will as the equivalent of your house insurance, the LPA is your accidental damage cover; you need to have it in place just in case.
Health and Welfare
There is also a second type of LPA which gives the appointed person the right to decide on any medical treatment or care if you are not able to make the decision for yourself. An example of this is if you suffer serious injuries in an accident. The doctors want to do one thing and your family want to do another. This can be especially important if you want your family to be able to make decisions about life sustaining treatment.
This LPA will give your family the right to decide what treatment you have (or not as the case may be) as if they were speaking for you.
Making an LPA comes in two stages. First the document is created and all parties sign it. Before the document can be used it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. Although this does incur some extra cost, in most cases it is a good idea so that the LPAs are ready to be used immediately in the case of sudden illness.
We are able to advise on and create both LPAs in the comfort of your home if you wish.