How would you cope if you were no longer able to manage your affairs or even if you were unable to get out to the Bank or the Post Office?
This could happen if you have a stay in hospital for a short or indefinite period, went abroad for a long period of time, or because age is catching up with you.
Fortunately at present you can appoint a person or persons you trust to look after your affairs, to make financial and property decisions on your behalf, to collect your pension, to pay your bills and so on. You can appoint one or more family members, a friend, your Solicitor or other person that you can completely trust. They would be called your attorney (or attorneys). You can give them full powers over all your property and financial affairs or you can restrict the powers. You can provide that the power cannot be used unless you lose mental capacity. If you appoint more than one attorney you can provide that they can sign for you individually or that all must sign.
They would be appointed by you in a short document called an Enduring Power of Attorney. This does not stop you from continuing to sign things yourself while you have legal capacity but gives a helping hand if you need one. This Enduring Power of Attorney continues even if you become too ill or incapable to deal with things yourself. You can only give a Power of Attorney while you have the mental capacity to manage your affairs so it is best to do this early and on a “just in case I need it” basis.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides that from 1st October 2007 the current, straight forward, Enduring Power of Attorney form will be replaced with a much longer and more complicated process which will grant a Lasting Power of Attorney. Enduring Powers made before that date will continue to remain in full force and effect.
There will be two types of Lasting Power of Attorney which you will be able to make, they can give the attorney much more control and extend their powers. The two types are:
1. Lasting Power of Attorney Property and Affairs and
2. Lasting Power of Attorney Personal Welfare which can include giving your attorney authority to give or refuse consent to medical treatment, or deciding where you live, if you are unable to decide this yourself. You can always make a Personal Welfare Power even if you have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are not, of course, a bad thing, indeed they are much more sophisticated and potentially more far reaching documents. The new Mental Capacity Act also introduces a new criminal offence to protect vulnerable people from wilful neglect and this can only be a very good thing.
However, if all you are concerned about is having someone help you manage your money and property, the Lasting Power is much more complex to grant. It takes longer to produce and has to be registered with the Public Guardian before it can be used. This being the case then you should give serious consideration to making an Enduring Power of Attorney before the end of September.
Everyone should consider this whatever age they are, provided you are an adult, as the process is very easy. It is not expensive and will provide peace of mind. By waiting until after September you can expect to be charged more for advice and preparation of Lasting Powers of Attorney due to their involved nature and more complex forms and procedure. You will however have the additional ability to give a Lasting Power that deals with your Personal Welfare.
Should you not appoint an Attorney at all and you subsequently become mentally incapable of managing your own affairs, then your family could be left having to apply to the Court of Protection for the right to assist you. This is a much more involved and expensive process and the person appointed by the Court may not be the one you would have chosen.
Save time, money, and anxiety by granting an Enduring Power of Attorney before the deadline of 30th September 2007.
Whether you chose to make an Enduring Power now or a Lasting Power after 1st October we at Paul Finn Solicitors will make this easy for you.
Just phone 01288 356 256 and we will arrange for you to see one of our Solicitors who specialise in this area of work.
Director, Paul Finn Solicitors
Tel: 01288 356 256