I have written before about the importance of having Powers of Attorney, but with everyone tightening their belts after the Christmas holidays is this an expense that can wait until a later date?
I was asked by a middle aged couple once whether they were too young to make Powers of Attorney - a question that I was quite surprised by at the time, but it seems the general perception is that these are something that only elderly people need.
By making a Lasting Power of Attorney, you are ensuring that should anything happen to you so that you are unable to deal with your property and affairs, or make decisions in relation to your medical treatment, there is someone who would be able to help you, and is legally entitled to make decisions on your behalf.
If you have not made a Power of Attorney, and become unable to deal with your affairs, someone would need to make an application to the Court of Protection to become your ‘Deputy’. This will give them the same powers that an Attorney has, but in order to become a Deputy, that person needs to provide the Court with details about themselves, about your finances, and provide a medical report from your doctor or a psychiatrist. A Deputy has to file annual accounts with the Court, and may be restricted as to the decisions which they can make on your behalf, often leading to more court applications as circumstances change.
The main differences between Powers of Attorney and Deputyships are that with a Power of Attorney;
- You decide who should act as your attorney
- You can appoint up to 4 people, and decide who should be attorney in the event that anything happens to the first person or people you appoint
- You can place restrictions or conditions as to the type of decisions and/or property that the Attorneys can deal with
- You can decide who should receive notice of the appointment of your Attorney(s)
From a practical point of view:
- An attorney has a duty to keep accounts, but there are no requirements for these to be sent to the Court on an annual basis
- Once an LPA is registered it can be used straight away; a Deputyship application can take a number of months
- COSTS! Once you have made and registered your LPA there are normally no further costs involved. However, with a Deputyship Application, the application itself is around twice to three times as expensive as making an LPA, and there are then annual administration costs and compulsory Deputy insurance which together can be more per year than the cost of setting up an LPA.
Many applications for Deputies are made for people wishing to look after people under the age of 50 who have illnesses or have been involved in accidents, and often mean that the Deputy is acting for many years.
Powers of Attorney are not exclusively for the elderly, and can provide very important safeguards for you and your family. When considering the alternative, putting off making LPAs may be a false economy.
For appointments to discuss Powers of Attorney, or Deputyships please contact Private Client Lawyer Caroline Billings, Norwich Powers of Attorney specialist on 01603 660 811 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org