How can you handle the finances and pay the bills of an incapacitated person who does not have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place?
When you are faced with the difficulty of family member or friend becoming unwell or having an accident leaving that person lacking the mental capacity to deal with their affairs, how best to pay their bills or deal with their care fees may not be top on the list of priorities. However, if the person in question is likely to be unwell for some time or is not likely to recover, it will be necessary to look into the options surrounding appointing somebody to act on their behalf.
If the incapacitated person has organised and signed a valid Lasting Power of Attorney prior to becoming unable to handle their property and financial affairs, now is the time to either register it, if it is not already registered or to obtain legal advice about how the Attorneys can use it moving forward if you are not sure.
If you do not believe an LPA was ever drafted, it may be necessary to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This application will ask the Court to appoint a Deputy to act and this will usually be a close relative or friend. It is also possible and quite common for a professional, such as a Solicitor to be appointed as a person’s Property and Affairs Deputy.
Making an application to the Court of Protection can be a lengthy process and can take anything from 3 months to 9 months and sometimes longer if the Court is busy or if there are problems obtaining a Capacity assessment. In the meantime, you may naturally be worried about how bills can be paid or care home fees met when you have no access to the person’s bank accounts.
It may be helpful to know that most Local Authorities, utility companies or care home are used to capacity related issues and subsequent delays in payments being made and are often understanding and willing to wait. In the meantime, it may be possible to apply to the Department for Work and Pension to act as someone’s “appointee”. This will at least allow you to receive any benefits the person may be entitled to and will ensure that there is at least some money available for the incapacitated person to use for minor expenses or to pay any small utility bills that may be due.
Other than being appointed as a persons appointee, there is, unfortunately, very little you can do until the Deputyship Order is received from the Court. In emergency situations, if money needs to be borrowed from family members or friends, it is reasonable to expect that this will be repaid from the person’s funds when the Deputy has access to them. It is also worth considering that in certain situations, emergency applications can be made to the Court of Protection. The Courts view of an emergency may differ from what a family may deem as an emergency and as such, these applications are quite rare.
If you are in need of any additional help or support throughout what can often be a very difficult and worrying time or if you would like some assistance in making a Deputyship Application, you can contact Nadia Kelley, member of the Court of Protection team at Wolferstans on 01752 292268.