The Importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney
More and more often these days I see the results of clients who have not put a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place. If a client loses ‘mental capacity’ and are unable to deal with their own finances, then their family are faced with a very difficult situation if there is not a LPA in place. Should you lose mental capacity, no one, not even your spouse or civil partner, has the authority to operate your bank account or deal with anything financial or legal on your behalf. Joint bank accounts are a good idea, but once a bank is aware that one party has lost mental capacity, the remaining party may not be able to use the account. Without a LPA in place, the family are forced to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed the person’s ‘Deputy’, who would then be authorised to deal with their property and finances. However, this is a lengthly and costly process and once appointed, the Court keeps a very close eye on the Deputy. Annual accounts would need to be submitted and permission obtained for significant decisions, such as selling property. In addition to the Court application fees for applying to be a Deputy, there is also an annual ongoing Court fee to be paid.
So the answer is really to make sure that you have a LPA in place. LPAs can cover property and financial decisions and also medical and welfare decisions. It is your opportunity to legally appoint one or more people to make these decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. They are invaluable and mean that the people that you choose are in control. I would advise that a LPA is drawn up by a professional. This would obviously involved professional fees, along with the LPA Court fee of £110. However, this is a fraction of the costs that a client would incur if their family is forced to apply to be their Deputy if a LPA is not in place.
I urge clients to consider making a LPA. Consider it as an insurance. Hopefully it will never need to be used, but if it is, you and your family will be far better off.
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