Most of us would be quick to want to help a parent or relative if they needed assistance dealing with their financial affairs such as bank accounts, pensions, paying bills, swapping utility companies or claiming benefits. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you would be able to, causing significant frustration and difficulty when the time comes.
To assist with another person’s affairs during their lifetime, even a close relative such as a parent or husband/wife, you will need to have been appointed as an Attorney. This means your parent or relative will need to have made Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) with a local solicitor. If LPAs have not been made you will not be able to deal with organisations on their behalf. For example, you will not be able to deal with financial institutions, the Department of Works and Pensions, utility companies or manage their bank accounts.
Many people need to assist with these matters because sadly their parent or relative has become unable to manage their affairs themselves. This may be due to physical or mental incapacity, perhaps due to old age or an accident, or simply because they have become too frail. If you want to help your relative with financial decisions and they did not have Powers of Attorney in place and were incapable of making them, you would need to make a costly application to the Court to obtain the necessary authority. The Court application takes several months and can be stressful and frustrating for those involved. Until the Court authorises your application you are unable to deal with their money and property.
LPAs are important documents that allow someone to give people (often close relatives or friends) the authority to make certain decisions on their behalf. There are two types of LPA:
Property and Financial Affairs LPA – which allows an attorney to manage and deal with finances and property related matters (such as selling a home).
Health and welfare LPA – which allows an attorney to make decisions regarding health and personal welfare. This type of LPA only comes into effect when a person no longer has the capacity to make such decisions themselves.
People often think that they would be able to make decisions about where their elderly parents or relative lives, where they receive care, what type of care they receive and whether they could agree to their receiving life-sustaining treatment. Without an LPA in place, relatives are not able to make these decisions. Doctors, nurses, medical practitioners or Social Services would make them instead.
To talk to a local lawyer about Lasting Powers of Attorney and to find out whether you or a relative should have them, call and speak to Zara Fletcher at Holmes & Hills Solicitors on 01376 557311 or email her firstname.lastname@example.org