Lasting Power of Attorney Advisors in Bedford & St Neots
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document (separate to your Will) that lets you appoint one or more persons to become your Attorneys who are then able to make key decisions on your behalf during your lifetime in the event of you losing capacity. Often an ‘LPA’ is put in place when writing or reviewing a Will and can only be done when a person is capable of fully understanding the effect of the document.
Without a Lasting Power of Attorney there will be no one with the authority to manage your affairs. It is wrong to assume that your spouse or children will be able to pick things up and simply take care of things. In order to gain the legal right to manage your finances and affairs, families without an LPA have to go to court. They are not just for individuals, as couples can opt for Mirror Lasting Powers of Attorneys as well.
Depending on your preference or needs, there are 2 types of Lasting Power of Attorney. One deals with your Financial Affairs and Property, the other deals with your Health & Welfare. They give your Attorneys power to manage your financial affairs on your behalf and to say where you live, and importantly what medical treatment you receive. An individual can have both types of LPA or just one depending on needs or preferences.
What can happen if I don’t have a Power of Attorney?
Here’s an account from The One Show of Heather Bateman’s experience when her husband was left in a coma.
The Repercussions of The 2005 Mental Capacity Act
The passing of the 2005 Mental Capacity Act on the 1st October 2007 has had far reaching repercussions for many families in England and Wales. The effects of the Act are set to multiply greatly as more and more people come in to contact with the ‘Office of Public Guardian’ and ‘Court of Protection’.
The Act was set up to protect people who may lack capacity to make some decisions for themselves, at first glance this seems a sensible approach to protect those who are vulnerable and lack the mental capacity to look after themselves.
However, it declares, that no one including the spouse, is allowed access to the assets and accounts (even those held jointly) in that individual’s name.
In the event of your spouse losing capacity either suddenly or over a period there are only two alternatives, firstly to already have an enduring or lasting power of attorney in place, or secondly make an application to the ‘Court of Protection’. This is where years of expense and frustration can start. Just Google ‘Court of Protection Problems’ and you will see the number of people at their wits end because no Lasting Power of Attorney was in place and they are made to deal with the ‘Court of Protection’.
What does “lacking capacity” mean? Section 2 of the 2005 Mental Capacity Act states: “…a person lacks capacity in relation to a matter if at the material time he is unable to make a decision for himself in relation to the matter because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain”. The impairment or disturbance can be permanent or temporary. Anyone of any age can ‘lose capacity’ common causes are: Accident – Stroke – Dementia.
Why Are ‘Property & Finance’ LPAs So Important?
An incapacity scenario step by step…
David aged 68 has multiple strokes. Later his family is told he will never fully recover.
All bank accounts and investments with David’s Name on are ‘frozen’ including the joint account, his wife Fiona is unable to sign or act on David’s behalf.
Fiona needs to make an application to the ‘Court of Protection’ but must borrow money from her Son as their joint bank account is frozen, the total cost of This application is between £2,000 & £3,000 and will take 3 to 4 months to get an answer.
Fiona cannot access savings and is unable to pay Household bills, her son comes to her financial aid again.
Fiona must establish a new bank account in her own name to receive her personal pension That was previously paid into the frozen joint account.
Due to David’s physical situation there is an urgent Need to move to a bungalow, but this cannot happen as Fiona Is unable to sign for her husband, so she will have to wait for the ‘Court of Protection’s decision on her application.
‘Court of Protection’ tells Fiona how much she can write out a cheque for, Fiona
must keep detailed accounts and make regular reports to the Court there will be more
fees for different reports estimated at £1,500 each year.
The ‘Court of Protection’ makes its ruling, Fiona will be made ‘deputy’ but firstly she must take out a £275,000 guarantee bond to protect her own husband’s assets against her mismanagement, cost £550 each year.
FACT: All of this will go on day in and day out, every month of every year until Fiona’s husband David dies.
The other real tragedy behind this story is that Fiona and David knew that they could have made Lasting Powers of Attorney for a few hundred pounds and could have avoided all the stress, intrusion & bureaucracy from the ‘Court of Protection’, but time and time again they put off deciding until David was struck down and the decision was taken away from them. This is happening in thousands of homes in England & Wales today.
Why Are ‘Health & Welfare’ ‘Lasting Powers of Attorney’ So Important?
Peter aged 81 has late stage Alzheimer’s, his family cannot look after him, so he lives in a nursing home. Then Peter is diagnosed with a brain tumour, of course he is unaware of this as he lacks the capacity to understand. Peter had always said to his family that if ever he had cancer he never wanted to ‘undergo any serious operation’ or chemotherapy! He was very adamant about this.
But in this instance because Peter had not made a ‘Health and Welfare’ Lasting Power of Attorney the people in charge of his care decided against the pleas of Peter’s family and gave the hospital team the permission to operate on Peter’s brain, remove the tumour, and give him 3 months or gruelling chemotherapy and radiation.
It saved Peter’s life, but he lived on for a miserable 4 years, further debilitated by the surgery, weakened by the chemotherapy and when he died he was completely confused and in a near vegetative state! If Peter had made a ‘Health and Welfare’ Lasting Power of Attorney appointing his wife and daughters as his attorneys they would have had the ‘power to refuse’ the lifesaving treatment that Peter had, which would have allowed Peter to die peacefully.
Cost of Lasting Powers of Attorney
2 Lasting Powers of Attorney for each person £375 the pair – Fixed Fee
(1 for Property & Finance & 1 for Health & Welfare)
Fees to register your LPAs are an extra £82 each
For a free Lasting Power of Attorney consultation get in touch
Your consultation is arranged at your convenience in your home within the Bedford and St Neots area, and further afield in the UK we can arrange an initial consultation for you by telephone. Simply call us 01480 290060 or press the enquire button below to arrange a no obligation chat.