July 16, 2018
Everyone likes to look after their money. It’s a characteristic that stems from childhood, from the pennies – or now pounds – that the tooth fairy brings us, to our first wages and saving for our first home and beyond.
But, what happens if someone loses their capacity to make decisions, including financial ones, for themselves due to an accident or illness?
The thought of handing over responsibility to others to look after our money in later life is something we all want to avoid. Indeed, I see many clients who view it as a failing or a weakness to even contemplate they may need help from their nearest and dearest.
LPAs are not only now much easier to create for clients who have a clear direction, they can prove an invaluable support to relatives in any time of need. Taking the worry away from your children or friends by having an LPA at the ready for such an eventuality means they can concentrate on you, rather than the administrative difficulties they would otherwise encounter.
An LPA is a legal document that enables you to choose people to manage your property and finances or your health and welfare. Here, I discuss the property and finance LPA in more detail.
In a data protection and security heightened world - we have all received the GDPR emails and failed security due to the wrong pet’s name being quoted from time to time! – you need to choose who should manage your affairs rather than leave it to chance.
Leaving no one as an attorney for property means you are at risk more than ever of stalemate, delays and financial exposure to your detriment.
Even simple tasks like dealing with a utility account can become a burden and a frustration for people genuinely trying to help. As they find themselves failing to pass security questions and so struggle to help you, they can feel as though they are failing you.
I often hear people claiming that they don’t need an LPA as they will just add a loved one to the account with them if ever they need to, then they will have the same authority.
Sadly, what is rarely publicised is that upon any death that account becomes the surviving owner’s. So, it will not pass in accordance with your will and can go an entirely different direction and result in significant inequality.
Such ill-preparation of not making an LPA in your lifetime can then create a dispute post-death which could have been entirely avoided.
Similarly, please do not presume that if you are married or in a civil partnership that an LPA is unnecessary, one is still needed. Banks are entitled to freeze joint accounts when they become aware of the loss of capacity of any person. In addition, sole accounts cannot be viewed or accessed, even if the monies in that account may have been classed by the couple as family monies. It becomes frustrating and difficult without proper preparation. It affects property sales in the same way. It can restrict the sale of a property and prevent moves for genuine reasons to be closer to family.
Making an LPA now in no way changes, restricts or removes your own authority on your own accounts/property. The power of the use of the LPA remains with you while you have capacity to manage your affairs. Place yourself in the position of your loved ones and ensure you have an LPA in place to help them to help you.
If you choose not to make an LPA, you have no say over who the court appoints for you as a deputy. The delay and financial expense of such an alternative is really to be avoided at all costs. Take control and choose the people you trust to act for you now.