Lasting Powers Of Attorney
The Court of Protection has been the subject of a great deal of media coverage recently. Many reports have highlighted the plight of relatives trying to obtain access to the finances of loved ones who have lost the ability to deal with their affairs personally.
The role of the Court of Protection is to make decisions for people who lack capacity to make those decisions themselves. Sadly, some people fall victim to exploitation when they lose capacity. The Court of Protection operates to ensure that vulnerable people are protected from such abuses.
Unfortunately, this can mean that well meaning relatives have to go through extremely long legal procedures and scrutiny that may be costly as well as distressing in order to gain control of their loved ones’ finances.
It is worth considering now how your affairs could be managed if you were to lose your capacity. Many people assume that their next of kin would automatically gain access to their finances but this is not the case. No-one has any legal entitlement to deal with your affairs while you are alive unless appointed by the Court of Protection or by you under a valid Lasting Power of Attorney (or Enduring Power of Attorney before 1 October 2007).
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to choose who should handle your affairs if you lose your capacity. You can also impose restrictions upon your chosen attorney(s) if you wish. The Lasting Power of Attorney may be registered immediately so that it is effective as soon as it is needed.
The great advantage of Lasting Powers of Attorney is that you have peace of mind, knowing that your finances will be accessible to your loved ones in the event that you lose capacity and that your relatives will not have to deal with the stress and inconvenience of a long Court application.
It is important to remember that it is not only the elderly who are at risk; there are many examples of young people losing capacity in tragic circumstances such as road accidents.
At Irwin Mitchell we appreciate the anguish and uncertainty that families may feel in the event of their relatives losing capacity. Making a Lasting Power of Attorney is a relatively straightforward procedure and may well be a godsend to your family in the future. Whatever your age, the advice is simple - don’t leave things to chance; take steps now to give you and your relatives peace of mind.