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Lasting Powers of Attorney can be made alongside wills and save a lot of heartache and distress. This month, Hannah Montague explains how they benefit families facing a loved one’s loss of mental capacity…
My mother is becoming increasingly forgetful. What can I do to help manage her affairs?
It is possible for your mother to create a legal document called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for property and financial affairs. To do so, she would still need to have the mental capacity to understand the nature and effect of her actions and be able to give instructions to confirm whom she trusts to act on her behalf.
If we are in any doubt about her health, we would ask a GP to provide a medical report to determine whether your mother has the requisite capacity.
What would an LPA allow me to do for my mother?
As an attorney, you would have the same powers and authorities over her property and financial affairs as your mother.
You would be dutybound to act in her best interests at all times, but you could pay bills, ensure her savings are invested in accounts offering the best rates of interest and arrange where her pensions are paid. It would even allow you to buy and sell property for her.
I think my mother would want to appoint me, my brother and sister as attorneys. Is this possible?
Certainly. Your mother can choose whomever she wishes to act on her behalf. She can appoint you ‘jointly’ meaning you all have to act together or ‘jointly and severely.’ This would give you more flexibility, for example, if one of you is on holiday, you can make decisions individually.
My father is showing signs of ill health. Can he give us powers to make decisions about his care?
An LPA for health and welfare can be created to grant the attorney powers over the donor’s daily routine, medical care and where they live.
You would then be consulted by medical professionals about your father’s treatment in hospital. If he needs to move into a residential home, you may have to discuss the LPA with staff to help formulate their care plan.
What if a doctor thinks my father no longer has the capacity to make an LPA?
You can apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your father’s deputy and it will authorise you to make decisions on his behalf.
The court will determine what you can and can’t do, but generally, it will allow you to pay bills, organise his pension, make decisions about medical treatment and decide where he lives.
I registered an LPA with the court in January last year and I have heard I may now be able to claim some money back. How do I do this?
That is correct. The Office of the Public Guardian is allowing people who registered LPAs in England and Wales between April 2013 and March 2017 to claim a part refund against the fees paid. This could be up to £54. You can make a claim if you are a donor or attorney, although all refunds will be paid to the donor. To find out more, visit www.gov.uk, or call the helpline on 0300 456 0300.
To find out more about Powers of Attorney, why not book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our probate specialists? Telephone (0114) 218 4000, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or complete this form.