At some point, many of us will not be able to make decisions for ourselves. For example, a large proportion of our clients have some form of dementia, and can no longer make large decisions for themselves. Their family have to decide for them.
But, when it comes to acting formally for someone, for example when a daughter has to act for her mother to try to get continuing healthcare funding, or even has to trade in her mother’s car, she needs a Power of Attorney.
If she doesn’t have one, the Court of Protection will have to appoint someone to make decisions. A process that takes months and costs thousands of pounds.
So, for a few hundred pounds, a power of attorney is a very valuable insurance policy, ensuring that the people you want to make the decisions for you that you can’t make yourself.
What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is the document used to give someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf. There are 2 types of power of attorney (PoA) available, and each of them covers a different set of decisions. Under both the attorney must always act in the best interest of the donor, at all times.
The Property and Financial Affairs LPA (lasting power of attorney) covers all things financial, the attorney will manage the finances and property of the donor, being able deal directly with the donors bank etc.
A health and wellbeing LPA is all about making decisions around the healthcare needs and general wellbeing of a donor. This includes choosing where the donor lives and how they receive medical treatment etc.
The decision to make these appointments should be taken whilst the donor still has capacity to do so, if you lose capacity before putting the process in place everything becomes much more difficult, expensive and time consuming.
Go to a solicitor.
You can put a Power of attorney in place yourself, without a solicitor. You still need to register it with the court of protection (which costs a few hundred pounds) for it to be valid. However, it is a very important, legally binding document, so the penalty for getting it wrong, or making a mistake is high. It is much safer to go to a solicitor, especially one who specialises in Powers of Attorney, and ask them to do it for you. It is not much more expensive either, especially when you consider the consequences of not having a working PoA.
Gotelee Solicitors have created a guide, and specialise in advice around later life matters. They are giving a talk at our upcoming Good Care Day event in April here at the Saxmundham Head Office about this very subject. We’ll have more information on this later. If you live in other parts of the country, a Solicitor for the Elderly will be able to help you.