Powers of Attorney and the Court of Protection

Lasting Powers of Attorney

It is well known that we are generally living longer than ever, due to improvements in healthcare provision and better medical techniques. As we get older, however, it is also a fact of life that many people become forgetful or absent minded, or worse suffer from dementia or other illnesses affecting their ability to cope generally with everyday life. Many people are concerned about what would happen to their affairs if they became unable to manage for themselves one day. This is where a Power of Attorney comes in.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document under which a person (“the donor”) can give to another person (“the attorney”) authority to make certain decisions on their behalf. Once drawn up, an LPA can be used when the donor is no longer able to make decisions themselves, to enable the attorney to make decisions on the donor’s behalf about things such as their property and financial affairs, or their health and welfare.

The process of setting up an LPA can be confusing to many people but this is where we can help. We can advise you on setting up an LPA, the choice of attorneys, and the best ways to ensure that your wishes are acted upon in the event that you can no longer carry them out yourself.

What Lasting Powers of Attorney are available?

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:

•A Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney enables you to nominate one or more attorneys to manage your property and finances, which can include selling your house, managing your bank accounts or investments and generally dealing with your financial affairs.

•A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney enables you to nominate one or more attorneys to make welfare and health care decisions on your behalf, including potentially where you live and your day to day care, along with decisions about any medical treatment you may need.

When should you set up a Power of Attorney?

If you have not made an LPA and you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself, then it may be necessary for someone to make an application to the Court of Protection for an order appointing another person to make decisions on your behalf (“a Deputyship Order”). In such circumstances, you lose control over who makes decisions about your money – the Court effectively takes over. Setting up an LPA in advance, therefore, enables you to retain control over who deals with your finances, enabling you to tell that person how you want your affairs managed if you become unable to do so.

The Court of Protection

The Court of Protection was set up by the Government to look after the interests of those who are unable to make decisions for themselves regarding their finances or personal welfare. If a valid LPA (or Enduring Power of Attorney drawn up before 30th September 2007) has not been set up and a person loses the necessary capacity to manage their affairs, then the Court must decide who should take those decisions and will appoint a person to act as a Deputy. Generally, a relative, friend or solicitor would apply to the Court to become the Deputy. Once appointed, the Deputy has similar powers to an Attorney but is answerable to the Court. The Court ensures that the Deputy appointed acts in the interests of the person who lacks the ability to manage their own affairs. We can assist and guide you if a family member or close friend is unable to manage their own affairs, there is no EPA or LPA and you want to be appointed as a Deputy. If there are no family members or friends willing to be the Deputy then we can be appointed to assist instead.

Please feel free to call our legal advisors on the right hand side of the page if you wish to discuss further.