One person in the UK develops dementia every three minutes. Yet don't assume relatives can just walk into a bank and access your money, even if it is to pay for your care.

Unless you have a Lasting Power of Attorney for your Property and Financial Affairs already, loved ones need to apply through court, which can be long and costly

If someone has difficulties that mean they can't make decisions anymore, they will need help managing their finances. Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where someone (while they still have mental capacity) nominates a trusted friend or relative to look after their affairs if they lost capacity. The key point to remember ...

Don't think you suddenly give up control. You can choose whether it can be used either before, or only when, you lose mental capacity.

Your representative should only ever make a choice for you if you're unable to make that specific decision at the time it needs to be made. For example, if you fall into a coma, your representative would start looking after your affairs. Yet if you wake from the coma, you should be able to make your own decisions again

The Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

Mention an LPA and many will automatically think of a person's finances, but there are actually two types to consider: one for finance and property, and another for health and welfare.

In a nutshell, the health and welfare document sees a nominated individual make decisions over day-to-day healthcare and medical treatments, as well as deal with any health and social care staff. It's also worth noting these are two separate legal procedures that are independent of one another.

Just because you give the trusted person power of attorney over your health, that doesn't mean they will automatically gain control over your financial affairs and vice versa. If you require the same individual to have power of attorney over both aspects of your care, then you will have to fill out the two forms separately.

Another key difference is that the health and welfare LPA can only be used after the person loses capacity, not before.

Why set up a Lasting Power of Attorney?

If you lose mental capacity, unless you've already filled in the Power of Attorney forms, your loved ones will need to apply through court to become 'deputy', a long and expensive process.

Instead, you can nominate a trusted friend or relative before you lose capacity, by setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

You can appoint one or more representatives to act for you, and can determine how they work together to make decisions on your behalf.

You may be thinking "this doesn't affect us, we're perfectly well". This is a common misunderstanding. The key thing to remember is...

You can only set up a Lasting Power of Attorney when you have mental capacity. Once you've lost capacity, it's too late.

The key is to act early. This story from Jean Cowan explains why:

My Mum is deputy (via the Court of Protection) to my Dad, who has advanced dementia. It's a very long, drawn out and quite intrusive process.

It's also expensive. Mum will have to pay hefty yearly fees too. I just wish we'd managed to get Power of Attorney instead, when Dad was more capable. He got ill very fast and we couldn't put one in place

Putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place , whether it’s for your personal and/or business affairs is an essential step, all for a set fixed fee of £299 inclusive of Vat . There is a registration fee payable in addition to the Office of the Public Guardian of £110. .

 

If your relative has already lost capacity...we can help and make an application to the Court of Protection.

 

If someone's unable to look after their affairs but did not set up Power of Attorney in advance, you  will need to make an application to the Court of Protection. The court will appoint a deputy to make choices about the person's finances, usually a family member or close friend.

There are two types of deputy: a deputy for property and financial affairs, and a deputy for personal welfare. The court decides whether a person who may have lost capacity is able to make decisions for themselves and if the friend/relative is the appropriate deputy