LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY – AVOIDING THE SECRET COURT
A recent article in the Daily Mail highlighted the difficulties faced when a person becomes mentally incapable of handling their financial affairs.
Whilst that article contained a number of inaccuracies and exaggerations it highlighted the fact that, where the correct planning has not taken place, an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a ‘Deputy’ to handle the financial affairs of the mentally incapable person.
The application will not always be made by a trusted family member and the process can involve a delay of six months or more, during which time there is often no-one able to deal with the money or property of the person concerned. In addition there are various costs associated with the application which can amount to £2,000 or more.
Once the Deputy has been appointed they continue to be supervised by the Court and may need the Court’s permission before they are able to take certain steps in relation to the money and property. There are ongoing costs, amounting to several hundred pounds or more, payable each year until the person whose affairs the Deputy is handling dies or regains mental capacity.
If you wish to avoid the process described above then you should create a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) appointing one or more trusted people to deal with your property and financial affairs in defined circumstances.
An LPA can be drafted so as to come into effect immediately or only at a defined point in the future. It cannot be used until it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, however the registration process is quicker and cheaper than an application to be appointed as a Deputy. The Court does not then have any ongoing supervisory role.