Hope for the best, but plan for the worst
Who will manage my money if I can’t?
Most people know that if they care about what happens to their money, property or belongings when they die then they need to make a Will. But what about what happens when you are still alive but can’t manage those things yourself?
Delays and Frustration
The answer is that the Court of Protection will appoint a Deputy to take over. However, this may be a total stranger who doesn’t know you or your circumstances.
If you have friends or family who want to help they can apply to be appointed as your Deputy. This is a long-winded business and they will have to provide a number of supporting documents as the Court of Protection needs to be satisfied that the Deputy is a suitable person to take on such a sensitive role.
The time this takes can be very frustrating but, worse, it may mean necessary adaptations to your property cannot be made or a place for you in a care home cannot be secured because your money is, in effect, blocked.
This can even happen if you have a joint account but do not have the necessary capacity to deal with your own financial affairs.
Choose someone you trust
So is there anything you can do now to avoid problems that may arise in the future? Happily, the answer is “yes”. A Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to choose who will take over your property and manage your financial affairs should this be necessary.
As well as the peace of mind that comes from choosing someone you trust, if the Lasting Power of Attorney has been registered at the Court of Protection there will be none of the damaging delays involved with applications to the Court of Protection.
The Lasting Power of Attorney document also gives you the opportunity to set out guidance for the person you have chosen and can specify when it is to be used.
You should consider taking professional advice on completing the Lasting Power of Attorney document as if it is not done correctly the Court of Protection will not register it, rendering it useless.
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney has a number of advantages. You choose a person you know and trust to handle your money, you specify the circumstances in which they should use the authority you’ve given them, and you set out in writing guidance as to how they should use that authority. Last but not least, you save the people who care for you the frustrations and anxiety involved in arranging your affairs if you don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney.
None of us knows what is round the corner so it isn’t better to “hope for the best but plan for the worst”?
Henrietta Brett looks after the Wills & Probate team at FM&C Solicitors. She may be contacted on +44 (0)7453 624 619 or +44 (0)1799 526 849.