Hundreds and thousands of people each year develop conditions that affect their mental capacity. When this happens, relatives think that they can just walk into a bank and request access to their loved one’s money, even if it’s to pay for their own medical care. It is only if someone has a Power of Attorney pre written that this can happen, and if they don’t then the family will have to apply through a long, legal battle through the courts. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, we’ve put this together to guide you through the process.


So What Is It?


So consider you were to unfortunately find yourself in the situation where you have suffered from a stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s or a serious accident (eg. Ending up in a coma). This would mean is most cases that your faculties would have sadly deserted you and you will be less able to make decisions anymore. In that situation you will need someone to manage your finances for you. The LPA or lasting power of attorney is a legal document where if you do lose that capability or mental capacity, you can nominate someone to be trusted with your affairs.


Please note that LPAs replaced the EPA system (Enduring Power of Attorney) so this mean if you had an one of these set up before October 1st 2007, it will still be valid regardless of registration, though the person must be registered when the person does lose capacity. This will be an additional cost of £110.


Why Set One Up?


If you do lose your mental sense, unless you have a LPA, your friends or family will have to apply to become a ‘deputy’, which is a long and highly expensive legal process. Rather than have this happen, you can pick someone before you lose that capacity by setting up an LPA. All it takes is a £110 fee and an online application. You can choose to pick as many or as little nominees as you want to act on your behalf and you can even decide on how they collaborate over your finances.


This like a lot of things in life is always pushed to the side. Whether people don’t want to think about it happening, or choose to ignore it because it’s not an immediate problem – the issue is when it does suddenly happen and people aren’t prepared, they can find themselves and their families in the midst of a nightmare (the last thing you want to be thinking about at that time is finances). There are hundreds and hundreds of stories out there of loved ones being stuck for money and wasting time in a drawn out legal battle when they could have been with their loved one so the key is to act early and get prepared.


Who Does This Apply To?


Whether you’re fighting fight or you’ve seen better years, an LPA should be set up by anyone over the age of 18. Most commonly, LPAs are filed by the over 50s but with the amount of conditions this matter applies to, age shouldn’t come into it. The most likely conditions that cause LPAs are as follows: Strokes, Coma, Delirium, Lose of Mental Health, Brain Injuries, Alcohol or drug abuse and the differing forms of dementia.


Who Decides the Loss Of Capacity?


An act brought in in 2005 entitled, the mental capacity act states that the loss is apparent if a person is unable to understand information relevant to a decision, retain that information long enough to make the decision or communicate the decision. A certificate provider is designated in the LPA and they will decide when your capable of making that resulting chose.


So How Can You Act?


This is essentially down to the stage you’re at.


If you or they still have that capability, then now is the perfect act to get something in place. They or you can make all of the arrangements and what you’d like to happen. Once it’s done, it can take the LPA up to 2-3 months to register and then it will be effective. As mentioned above, do you really want to leave things unsorted to leave a mess behind for your loved ones?


If someone close to you is now mentally unable but didn’t set up a power of attorney this, then becomes trickier. You will then need to become a deputy of the court of protection to make decisions on their behalf. This is a highly confusing matter and you will more than likely need the help of a wills solicitor to get you through the jargon and help you navigate your way through the matter. If you do decide this though make sure you use a solicitor with specialist knowledge so you don’t end up spending a lot of money on top of your deputy court of protection fees.