Common Legal Questions: Financial Matters for Elderly or Older People
Posted on 31st October 2019
During your lifetime, providing that you retain capacity, you are entitled to continue making your own decisions about your finances, health and care. However, sometimes our ability to do this diminishes as we grow older, or sometimes, whilst our capacity does not change, we may lose the physical ability to carry out our affairs. Whether the issues you’re facing are caused by an illness, disability or an accident, there are a number of steps that you can take to prepare for this. That way, regardless of whether or not this becomes a reality, you will be ready to face things that lay ahead.
If your loved one has already lost their capacity, then you will need to look at taking advice from a solicitor, such as your local Wills and Probate solicitors, who are based in our Preston office.
So, one scenario that’s put forward to us often, is when children are concerned that their parents are starting to become more frail, and they would like to be able to help them with the day-to-day running of their affairs, such as going to the bank on their behalf and dealing with their property rent payments, or mortgage company.
The children often ask what they can do to help their parents.
Our team of Wills and Probate Solicitors would firstly explain that, provided that your parents still have their capacity, Lasting Powers of Attorney would be the way forward. However, it’s important to note that the instructions for Lasting Powers of Attorney would need to be given by your parents, and they would need to be happy to go forward with these documents of their own accord.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are legal documents, which are a way of giving another person the power to manage your financial or health affairs when you are struggling to deal with these yourself. Our team would usually suggest appointing someone that you trust to act as your Attorney, such as your children, or a friend, or you may even wish to appoint your solicitor. One thing to bear in mind with LPAs, is that no one can ‘take’ the role as your Attorney, you have to willingly appoint them, or ‘donate’ it. Another important thing to be aware of, is that if your Attorneys are over-stepping, or not acting in what you feel are your best interests, you are well within your rights to withdraw your LPA.
Lasting Powers of Attorney for financial decisions can be used before you lose capacity, and will continue (providing that you don’t decide to end it prior to this) after you have lost capacity. Lasting Powers of Attorney for health and care decisions will only come into effect after you have lost capacity, however you, again, can cancel this before you lose your capacity.
Another option which is open to you, if you need a shorter-term solution, would be to make a general power of attorney. Again, this is a legal document which will come into effect as soon as is stipulated in the document (usually, straight away). In this document, you can appoint one or more Attorneys, who can make decisions on your behalf. The difference with a general power of attorney, is that this will always come to an end if you lose your capacity, so it would be of no use to your Attorneys beyond this time. Unfortunately, this option does not appeal to everyone, as the general power of attorney will not apply to health and care decisions.
To find out more about general and lasting powers of attorney, you can contact our Wills and Probate solicitors, here. If you want to know what fixed-fees we offer, find out, here.
As you may have realised, lasting and general powers of attorney can only be used when a person has capacity to make these documents. If your parents or loved ones have already lost their capacity, the process for obtaining the authority to deal with their affairs is different.
The Court of Protection needs to be involved if you wish to be appointed as a Deputy (similar to an Attorney) for your loved one. With the Court of Protection applications, you would usually apply for Health and Welfare and Financial decisions separately, with two different Court fees generally payable. The Court of Protection application fee for Deputyship applications is currently £385.00, with no VAT payable.
Another issue that clients sometimes query with us, is receiving their parent’s or loved one’s DWP pension. The Department for Work and Pensions offer a service, whereby if a person is incapacitated, another person can be appointed on their behalf to receive the benefits, known as the ‘appointee’. The appointee can be a friend, a relative, or professionals, such as the local authority social services department. The DWP does not usually charge for this service.
If you need to speak to a Wills and Probate Solicitor about putting in place LPAs, or dealing with a deputyship application on behalf of your loved one, contact our expert team, here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team offers a range of fixed-fee legal services, and home visits are available by appointment.
MG Legal – Your Local Solicitors
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