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Hansford Bell Law – providing local expertise in Power of Attorney and Court Protection orders

Lasting Powers of Attorney

attorneyImagine you, your partner or your parents suffering from a serious illness or accident which resulted in them not being able to make decisions for themselves. Who would take charge? Who would manage their money for them, possibly sell the house, run their business or decide where they should live and who should care for them?

Most people think this would be their husband, wife, partner or children. However no one automatically has the legal authority to make these decisions for other people unless they have been specifically given this power.

There are only two ways to obtain these legal powers, the first is by being appointed as an Attorney under a Lasting Power of Attorney, the other is to obtain a Court order to be appointed as a Deputy.

Lasting Powers of Attorney are essential legal documents which enable you to decide who you trust to make such important decisions on your behalf if for any reason you cannot do so.

There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney, one to cover Property & Financial matters and the other in respect of Health & Care. If you are the owner of a business, you may wish to appoint different Attorneys who have the appropriate knowledge and skill to manage your business by making a separate business Property and Financial Lasing Power of Attorney. This would ensure the business could continue without disruption or risk of loss or failure.

Once completed and registered, your Attorneys will be in a position to assist you without delay or further recourse through solicitors or the court. This is essential because Lasting Powers of Attorney are usually required at a difficult time for your family when they need to be able to act swiftly with the minimum of further distress, delay and cost.

Having Lasting Powers of Attorney in place is reassuring in case anything unfortunate should happen. They may also be used if you simply wish your Attorneys to assist you with your affairs.

Enduring Powers of Attorney

You or family members may already have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place. Provided the document was correctly completed on the appropriate form, this document is still valid in respect of property and financial matters. However, there may be limitations as to the attorney’s powers regarding powers to deal with investments and there is a specific process requiring notification to various family members upon registration.

Enduring Powers of Attorney do not give any legal authority with regard to health and welfare decisions. It may be worth considering updating the appointment of your Attorneys by making new Lasting Powers of Attorney.

We can also assist with the registration of an Enduring Power of Attorney and provide guidance to Attorneys.

Court of Protection – Appointment of a Deputy

If you have not appointed Attorneys and become unable to make decisions about your affairs, then someone will need to apply to the Court of Protection for a court order appointing them as your Deputy. This is an expensive and time consuming process which usually takes at least 6 months. In addition the court will require the Deputy to file annual reports and will undertake on-going supervision of the Deputy. Further orders may be required to enable the Deputy to undertake major steps such as selling a house all incurring considerably more expense and delay.

The Deputy appointed may not be the person you would have chosen and if there is a dispute over who should be appointed, this will lead to court proceedings the costs of which will be paid from your money and could run to many thousands of pounds. In some circumstances, the Court may decide to appoint a solicitor to manage your affairs and their fees for undertaking such work will be paid from your money.

This is why it is essential to take the opportunity to decide for yourself who you trust to act in your best interests if the need arises and put in place Lasting Powers of Attorney.

If however it has become too late to make Lasting Powers of Attorney, we can advise family members on the appropriate applications to the Court of Protection in order for them to acquire the legal authority to deal with matters for you.