There has been much press coverage recently regarding the Court of Protection. The Court of Protection is a body designed to protect those people who lack mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.
This may include young people who have had some form of injury, or the elderly, and in this age of living longer, it is increasingly likely that the Court of Protection will be involved in all of our lives.
If you lose mental capacity and have not taken steps to put in place arrangements for what is to occur with your property and your affairs, the Court of Protection will become involved and may appoint a Deputy to control those affairs. This may not necessary be the person you would have chosen for yourself. The procedure is lengthy, onerous and can be costly, with the Court being involved throughout the lifetime of the incapable person. Acting as a Deputy for someone is a difficult role, with a lot of paperwork involved and cost.
Whilst the Court of Protection is currently looking at ways in which their procedures can be streamlined and made less costly, the current systems are likely to be around for some time, and it is therefore a good time to consider what would occur if you were not able to manage your affairs through absence, illness or incapacity. What affect would this have on your family?
You can take control of what would occur should this happen, by some advanced planning and preparation of a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a document that appoints an attorney/attorneys who can take control of your affairs and make decisions on your behalf if you were unable to do so. You can give to an attorney power to deal with financial and legal matters, or decisions including your health and welfare, to include medical treatment.
There have been recent changes to Lasting Powers of Attorney which mean that it is easier to prepare one than ever before and the cost and procedure, in comparison to that involved with the Court of Protection, is minimal. You can give guidance to your attorney(s) as to how decisions are to be reached, place restrictions or conditions as to what they can or cannot do and, most importantly, choose the person who is going to be looking after your affairs, which may not occur in the event that you became incapable and a deputy were to be appointed by the Court of Protection.
Advanced planning in this way protects not only your affairs and your family, but enables you to remain in control even if you are unable to make these decisions yourself.
Wolferstans’ Wills and Probate Department have a specialist team involved in the preparation and use of Lasting Powers of Attorney and would be pleased to assist with any queries that you have. Please contact either Melanie Cotterill or Sam Buckthought on 01752 663295.