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A lasting power of attorney prevents court of protection headache

Author: Emma Wood

The distressing story of Samantha Partington, a journalist for the Daily Mail is another example of why it’s so important to set up a lasting power of attorney.

In short, Samantha’s mum was diagnosed with dementia and the family were told she’d need round the clock care. Despite his efforts, her father struggled to cope and, sadly, he passed away of a heart attack just seven months later.

This left Samantha and her brother, Michael dealing with her mother’s finances. That was where the problems began.

Because her mother’s condition had degenerated and there was no power of attorney in place, Samantha and Michael were unable to deal with things for her.

Instead, they had to apply for a court of protection order through the Office of the Public Guardian to become what’s known as a deputy. As you’d imagine, dealing with the authorised transfer of a person’s finances is a complex, involved process. It usually takes about six months to complete, but once it’s granted, it allows you to act on your loved one's behalf. In the meantime, however, the bills still need to be paid.

Conversely, as long as the person setting one up has the mental capacity to understand what it is they’re signing up to, it’s relatively straight forward to set up a power of attorney. Whereas court of protection order involves someone applying to take charge of your finances without your permission, you can choose who you want to look after them with a power of attorney.

The process of applying to be a deputy through a court of protection requires specialist legal advice from a solicitor and the application itself is around £400. Coupled with these are other costs, such a medical reports and possible ongoing court administration fees as well as any care fees that might be payable to look after your loved one. When added together, the cost of applying for a court of protection far outweighs setting up a power of attorney in the first place.

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