Dementia: Why You Need A Lasting Power Of Attorney18th Nov 2016
Heart disease is no longer Britain’s biggest killer. You are now more likely to die from dementia than anything else.
No longer is dementia a taboo. Now it is commonplace, prompting more people to realise: “I need a lasting power of attorney.”
They’re half right. Actually you need two: one for your finances; the other to cover your health and welfare.
But let’s rewind a little…with a helpful reminder of what powers of attorney are and why you need them…
What Is A Power Of Attorney?
A legal document which enables you to nominate a trusted person (usually a relative or professional) to take decisions or carry out actions on your behalf if you become unable to do so.
It’s often associated with dementia or other conditions which may diminish your mental capacity to take decisions for yourself.
But it can also be used in other cases such as:
- Someone who has had a stroke. They may have full mental capacity but cannot sign documents because they have lost the use of their dominant arm.
- Someone who is out of the UK for long periods of time. They can nominate someone to carry out actions on their behalf.
What Happens If I Don’t Have A Power Of Attorney?
The consequences can be far reaching. If you lose capacity without a power of attorney in place:
- Your spouse may not be able to sign legal documents in your name.
- Your bank may freeze your joint account.
- You may not be able to sell your house – always a serious issue but especially if you urgently need to downsize or go into a care home.
- Doctors and other medical staff may not accept your medical choices or those of relatives on your behalf.
- Local authorities may ignore your preferences when selecting a care home for you.
Your relatives may need to apply to the Court of Protection for a deputyship – this can cost £3,000, far more than a single power of attorney.
How Long Does It Take To Set Up A Power of Attorney?
All lasting powers of attorney must be registered with the Court of Protection. This can take three months.
So it pays to take action early – rather than trying to apply to the court while you’re still trying to pick up the pieces after a crisis has already taken place.
For more information, contact Coles Miller Solicitor Anthony Weber, a Partner at the firm and head of our Wills & Probate Department. 01202 355695.