Looking after a loved one who is losing their mental capacity is a challenging time. It can become even more stressful if you do not have the legal authority to deal with their affairs granted under a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
People often think that if something happens to them or a loved one in the future and they are unable to make decisions for themselves about issues such as finances and property, healthcare or personal care, their loved ones can take over managing it for them. This is unfortunately not the case. Just as you need to make a Will to determine what happens to your estate when you die, you need to put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place if you want to choose who deals with decisions on your behalf when/if you lose mental capacity. There are two types of power of attorney ‘Property and Finance‘ and ‘Health and Welfare‘.
It is strongly advisable, no matter your age, that everyone puts in place a Lasting Power of Attorney to someone you trust, so they can act on your behalf when you’re no longer able to make decisions at the time they need to be made. People can lose mental capacity at any age during their lifetime although, this is most common when a person is suffering from one of the many forms of dementia but, can also happen in younger people if, for example, they have acquired brain injuries.
In the event you lose mental capacity and have not appointed your Attorneys, the only option would be for someone to make a Deputyship application through the Court of Protection.
The application process can take approximately 6 months from the point the application is submitted to the Court however, Court timelines are currently being impacted due to the coronavirus pandemic. There is a £365 Court fee to pay on application to the court (payable twice if applying as Deputy for finance and health) alongside your Solicitor’s fee, a GP fee (if applicable) for their involvement with a capacity assessment, a £100 new Deputy assessment fee and an annual supervision fee ranging from £35 up to £320, dependent upon the level of supervision required. This is significantly more than the fee for registering a Lasting Power of Attorney which is currently £82 per document accompanied by your Solicitor’s fee.
The consequences of not making a Lasting Power of Attorney are not worth leaving to chance. Essentially, you have no power over who is given the authority to deal with your affairs if you are unable to do so and, there is no guarantee that a deputyship application will even be accepted by the court. They may decide the Local Authority is better suited as your appointed deputy rather than the person making the application.