With advances in medicine we are all living longer. Unfortunately, our bodies are holding out, but our minds are not. The number of people in this country being diagnosed with dementia is increasing year by year. Everyone knows someone, or knows of someone, with this debilitating disease.
People make Wills to deal with their estates after they have died, but they should also think about making plans if they fall victim to dementia . If you lose your mental capacity, bills still need to be paid; decisions have to be made about where you will live, what medical treatment you may need and what will happen to your money. The people who step forward to look after your money and your welfare may not always be your first choice, because of family rift, or they are just not the best people to deal with money and make important decisions about your health and welfare.
You can plan ahead by making Lasting Power of Attorney Deeds (“LPAs”). There are two types of LPA, one for money and property and a separate deed concerning your welfare. In each LPA you choose who you want to look after your money and your property, or welfare, if you are no longer able to because you have lost the mental capacity to makethe decisions yourself. The people you choose are called Attorneys. In the LPAs you can specify how and when your Attorneys can act and when.
If you don’t make an LPA and you lose your mental capacity, someone has to act on your behalf to deal with your money, your home and your welfare. If you own your own house, that person will have to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy. The Court fee alone is £400 and the application process can cost over £1000. Due to staff shortages and a backlog of applications it is currently taking about 6 months to process Deputy applications by the Court of Protection.
I recently acted for a daughter of a man who unexpectedly had a stroke and was left mentally incapable of dealing with his finances and property. All his bank accounts, investments and his home were in his sole name. He paid for everything either by cash or cheque, not by direct debit or standing orders. His daughter was powerless. Because of the Data Protection Act banks, building societies would not speak to her because she had no formal authority to act on behalf of her father as he had not made an LPA. I acted for her in preparing and submitting an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as her father’s Deputy as an urgent application. Even though it is was an urgent application it took the Court of Protection weeks to deal with it. In the meantime my client had to fend off creditors and struggle to manage her father’s financial affairs at a very difficult time for her. Sadly, her father died before the Court of Protection got around to processing the so called urgent application. If my client’s father had made a financial and property LPA, she would have had formal authority to deal with his property and money the day he had the stroke, saving her considerable time and stress.
If you haven’t made an LPA I would highly recommend that you give it some thought. If you need any more information about LPAs, please feel free to call me on 0151 666 9166 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.