Lasting Powers of Attorney/Deputyships

Have you ever considered how you would manage if you became incapable of managing your finances, either because you were physically incapable of going to the bank or signing cheques or if you were mentally incapable?

Have you also considered whether you would like someone else to make decisions about where you live or what medical treatment you should receive in the event that you cannot make such decisions yourself due to mental incapacity?

Although it is sometimes difficult to think about such a thing happening to you, simple tasks can become more and more difficult as you get older and especially if you become ill, have an accident or suffer from an illness such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Whilst you are still fit and well, you can discuss with Chubb and Co your options and we can prepare for you a document which allows YOU TO CHOOSE who you would want to deal with your finances if you are unable. The document is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) whereby you appoint one or more Attorneys to deal with your property and affairs or make personal welfare decisions. This can allow your Attorneys to carry out everyday tasks such as paying your bills or more significant duties such as selling your house or for them to decide where you live or what medical treatment you receive.

If there is no LPA in place, and you lose mental capacity, then no one, has authority to deal with your financial affairs on your behalf. The only option then available to your family or friends is for one or more of them to make an application to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a deputy. A deputy can be appointed for both property and affairs decisions and for personal welfare decisions.

Unfortunately anyone can apply to be a deputy. This may mean that the person looking after your affairs or making personal welfare decisions is not the person you would have chosen yourself. This lack of control as to who deals with your affairs when you have lost capacity is a fundamental problem that can be avoided with an LPA. With an LPA you choose who acts, what type of authority you give them and, if necessary, when they can act.

There are other disadvantages of deputyships. Time is the biggest one. It can take anything from three to six months for most deputyship applications to be completed, depending on the circumstances. Even extremely urgent applications are taking around six weeks to be considered and dealt with. Because a deputyship application can only be made if someone has lost mental capacity, you cannot make a speculative application in case someone loses capacity in, say, the next six months (e.g. if suffering from early stage dementia) - if this were the case then an LPA should be completed instead.

Unfortunately the proposed deputy has absolutely no authority to act for the incapable person until the order is issued by the court. Even if bills are mounting up and the application has been made, no action can be taken in the meantime to sort out these bills.

Once completed an LPA should be registered straightaway. Once registered it can be used at a moment's notice. The process of registering the LPA is not quick - currently applications are taking around three to four months - so the application should be made before capacity becomes a problem.

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