Current statistics show that one in every three people over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with dementia. In these circumstances family members and loved ones can often be left dealing with both the emotional pain of the situation and the practicalities, as they struggle to access finances and pay bills. Of course, strict regulations are in place to protect those in vulnerable situations, but for the family members who simply want to take care of their loved one, it can be a huge problem.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is an excellent way to maintain control of your finances whilst having adequate protection for a day or time when you may not be able to manage alone. Many think that these may only be put in place for the elderly, but of course any person of any age may have an accident or incident which renders them unable to manage their own finances on a permanent or temporary basis; an LPA can be used in these circumstances too.
An LPA may be made at any time by any person who has the capacity to do so. Capacity is defined as a person’s ability to make their own choices and decisions. Under UK law, someone’s capacity is judged according to the specific decision to be made, so a person may have sufficient capacity to make simple decisions but not more complicated ones. Assuming you have the relevant capacity to make an LPA, a solicitor who specialises in Private Client, Wills and Probate work will be able to prepare such a document. The solicitor can confirm your capacity as you sign and in the event that further evidence of this is required, they may call upon a doctor or other professional to give a second opinion.
If there are questions regarding your capacity to make an LPA, or if you were to lose capacity and have no LPA in place, your family members may be forced to apply to the Court of Protection to access your finances and make decisions on your behalf. This is a lengthy and far costlier process, which can take up to six months to take effect.