If you have previously put an Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney in place, you will have already appointed an attorney or attorneys to help with your affairs. Your attorney will be able to take certain steps regarding your health & welfare or property & financial affairs decisions (or both), depending on which Power of Attorney you have chosen. They may also be able to help you while you still have capacity, for instance if you feel that you wish to delegate certain matters to someone else. It is also possible to appoint a professional as your attorney, for instance a firm of solicitors, if you feel that this would be appropriate for you.
If you do not have a Power of Attorney in place, the position is more complex. Should you lose the capacity to deal with your own affairs while decisions still need to be made (for instance regarding the sale of your property, care funding or receipt of an inheritance), a deputy may need to be appointed to act for you. Deputies are only appointed once a person has lost capacity and careful thought therefore needs to be given regarding who should be appointed. For this reason, an application to the Court of Protection is required and this can be quite a demanding and costly process.
Usually the potential deputy will be notified, for instance by the local council or by a medical professional, that a deputy is required and that they may be the appropriate person. This means that you would not have control over who is appointed or which decisions they are able to make. Once appointed, deputies are under strict rules and supervision but can still be given wide-ranging powers relating to your affairs. This can be quite a daunting prospect for all parties involved.
How can Tozers help?
We recommend that everyone considers putting a Power of Attorney in place to safeguard their affairs. They are great tools for succession planning and cover property & finance, and health & welfare. To find out more, or for support with putting in place a Power of Attorney, please contact our dedicated Later Life Planning team who will be happy to help.