The Power of Attorney
I speak to a lot of people about Lasting Powers of Attorney and one response I often hear is that people think they are too young to put Powers of Attorney in place – there is a perception that Powers of Attorney are only for the very elderly, or that if you are married, your spouse will be able to deal with everything for you.
However, Powers of Attorney are not just there for those who are beginning to lose mental capacity through dementia or Alzheimer’s; there are many unexpected events which could occur which might mean that from a physical or mental point of view, you are unable to continue to manage your affairs as you have done before. It is also a misperception that your spouse will automatically be able to deal with matters on your behalf – if you hold any assets in your sole name, then without a Power of Attorney in place you may find that the banks or other institutions refuse to deal with anyone.
Having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place is excellent preparation for the future – almost like an insurance policy. You take it out hoping that it will never need to be used, but if something unexpected happens, then you know that it is the person or people you have chosen who will manage things on your behalf and that they will have the authority they need to do this.
I have recently met with a client who is in her mid-70’s. Up until a few weeks ago, her husband had enjoyed good health, but then sadly and unexpectedly suffered 2 strokes. The second stroke was more severe and has left her husband unable to deal with his personal affairs himself. Even worse, there is no Power of Attorney in place and he does not have sufficient capacity to put one in place now. This means that his wife has to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as his Deputy in order to help him with these matters. Application to be appointed as a Deputy is a process which will take some time and cost more than putting Powers of Attorney in place to start with. As Deputy she will also be required to submit accounts to the Court each year, be visited by a Court representative to check everything is running smoothly, pay annual management fees to the Court and put in place an Indemnity policy to cover the value of her husband’s assets.
With a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, she could have simply taken over the running of her husband’s affairs immediately and without the intervention of the Court of Protection.