Julianne Moore recently won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Alice, a 50 year old academic who is dealing with early onset dementia. This film is a poignant reminder that losing your mental capacity does not just happen in old age. It is estimated that 40,000 younger people are living with dementia so you should not wait to put your affairs in order. While dementia or other conditions may allow you time to choose someone to manage your affairs before you lose mental capacity, there is no such luxury if you have an accident.
Would your loved ones be able to deal with your affairs for you while you were incapacitated? For example, would your loved ones be able to access your bank account to pay for care, mortgage payments, utility bills etc? Even with a joint bank account the bank may freeze it if the incapacitated person does not have an attorney. What if you have a young family which is financially dependent on you? What about you? Would anyone have the legal authority to say what type of treatment you do or don’t want and whether or not you want to receive life sustaining treatment?
By making Lasting Powers of Attorney you can ensure in the worst case scenario, the people you have chosen and trust can make decisions on your behalf. A Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs allows you to choose attorneys who you appoint to deal with your property and finances. You don’t have to have lost mental capacity for your Lasting Power of Attorney to be used, as long as it has been registered, so you could ask your attorneys to deal with your affairs if you were abroad or in hospital.
You can also make a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare. This allows to you give your attorneys the authority to give or refuse consent to life sustaining treatment if you wish and other guidance regarding treatment. The Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare cannot be used until you have lost the mental capacity to make decisions regarding your medical treatment or welfare.
If you haven’t made Lasting Powers of Attorney and you lose the mental capacity to deal with your affairs, an application to the Court of Protection will need to be made. While it is often family members who apply to be what is known as your Deputy to deal with your affairs, if there are any disputes within the family, it is likely a professional will be appointed. An application to the Court of Protection is a more costly and time consuming process than making a Lasting Power of Attorney. Furthermore, it is likely that your loved ones will be making the application at an already emotional and difficult time. The Court of Protection regularly appoints Deputies (often family members) to manage a person’s affairs. However, the Court is reluctant to appoint Deputies to make decisions about a person’s health and welfare preferring these to be made together by the family/carers and professionals involved with the person.
If you would like more information about making a Lasting Power of Attorney, please contact:
Rebecca Bawler on 01752 292322 or Kearny Wash on 01752 292242
If you would like more information about applications to the Court of Protection, please contact:
Sophie O’Connell on 01752 292355