Power of Attorney

What Are They?

There are two types; Property & Financial Affairs and Health & Welfare.

Being appointed an attorney gives that person far reaching powers and you should read on if you think it would not benefit you.

Property and Financial Affairs

You may be shocked to learn that it is now common for banks to freeze joint bank accounts once they become aware of a loss of mental capacity for one of the joint parties. It can also be problematic to sell property and especially so where joint tenancy of a home has been severed. Investments cannot be altered even if they are performing poorly. Without being appointed as attorneys under a LPA those who would be trying to help them in difficult circumstances will not have any authority to manage their affairs. Where a local authority cannot access a person’s funds to pay for their care they may themselves apply to the Court of Protection requesting the Court to appoint a professional deputy. The cost implications are very significant as the professional deputy is remunerated at pre-agreed rates from the assets of the person concerned.

Health and Welfare

These can often prove to be just as important … and probably best illustrated through the following examples ..

Consider this scenario. A lady has lost capacity and is living in a care home. Her daughter visits her regularly and takes a keen interest in her welfare. She notices that her Mother has a number of bruises and feels concerned. She speaks to the manager of the home, expresses her concerns and is not happy with the explanation that “oh she keeps falling”. She says to the manager that she would like to take her Mother for a drive and once she gets Mother out she decides to take her to her back to her own home with the intention of making alternative arrangements. So far so good; but in the morning Social Services are knocking on her door accompanied by the Police having arrived to take her Mother straight back to the same home. Without a Lasting Power of Attorney she does not have the authority to decide where her vulnerable Mother lives.

In another scenario Mother who has lost capacity is fortunate to be living in a very nice care home with wonderful committed and caring staff; but because there are no LPA’s in place her own funds cannot be accessed and her daughter has felt obliged to make the payments.

Scenario A. Daughter runs out of money and cannot continue to pay. The local authority now have to step in and meet the costs, but this care home is more expensive than their budget so now Mother is moved across town to another less costly home. Unfortunately it simply isn’t as good and because her daughter doesn’t drive she is unable to see her Mother as frequently as she used to.

Scenario B. This lady’s daughter feels that the £875 per week fees demanded by the Local Authority are high. She also realises that the calculations as to what must be paid are made by the Local Authority and that the more she pays then logically the less is paid by the LA. She resolves to ask the LA to provide details of how they have arrived at the figure of £875 per week. “Are you appointed as an attorney for your Mother under a Health & Welfare LPA Mrs Smith?” Err no … “Ah well I’m afraid that under the data protection act we are unable to provide private information about your Mother”.

Now is the time to act

A Lasting Power of Attorney can only be created by the donor at a time when they have full mental capacity. Once mental capacity is lost the only remedies that remain are costly and time consuming and involve either applying to the Court for decisions to be made or else somebody making a formal application to be appointed as a deputy of the court to act in the person’s affairs. A deputy appointment requires a court hearing, the authority of the deputy is often restricted (maximum cheque say £500), the deputy is required to provide detailed accounts, the deputy is required to undergo formal annual supervision and pay the court for providing this. Many relatives who embark down this road give up part way through the process.

A far better, cheaper and more effective option is to take out a Lasting Power of Attorney. They can literally save you tens of thousand of pounds and significantly reduce your stress load.