Lasting Power of Attorney
Do you have one in place?
Not one to nag, although I could go on for hours as to why you should have this sorted. I think it should be a mandatory process alongside paying tax etc.
My personal experience of what happens when one is not in place was worrying, time consuming, required assistance from outside agencies and financially the bill was not small.
Although I was able to retrieve the monies, I had to part with over £2,000 initially. I am sure my parents never intended to place me in that situation, yet it happened and happened so quickly. Despite help from my parent’s GP and Social Services the process took 7 months via the Office of the Public Guardian/Court of Protection (OPG/COP).
During this time the bills were growing and companies, landlords etc required payment – so I had some interesting conversations with a variety of people. Whilst most were understanding and patient that was not the case with others. This made an unpleasant time for the family even more distressing.
To avoid my children having a similar drama I will have a LPA in place shortly. Only delayed so I could go through the process ‘live’ and highlight the ‘highs and lows’. Allegedly it is easy to do online so here goes.
Follow the link to the site, there are many sections and I would advise reading them all before starting to input any information. I found it readable and easy to follow.
First you must set up an account with the service – was quick and asked nothing you would not expect.
You are required to have both a witness and a ‘Certificate Provider’ (a person able to confirm you are of sound mind and acting voluntarily) alongside a person/people who have agreed to act as your Power of Attorneys. Once you have completed inputting the basic information online payment is required, (there is then a 40-day time period during which you must obtain the required signatures and post the printed forms to the OPG Office, if you do not make this deadline the payment is returned to your bank account). My understanding is that you can continue and re-pay, although if you think that you may not be able to make this deadline it may be simpler to select the ‘pay by cheque’ method.
To input the required information took me approx. 20 minutes and if I had had the Certificate Provider, Attorneys and witnesses ready and waiting with pens in their hands the whole process could have been completed within an hour.
I choose to only have ‘Property & Finance’ LPA status and that the attorneys could act ‘jointly and severally’ in regard to decision-making. This means that they can act separately or together, the alternative is ‘Together/Jointly’ which means that all attorneys have to agree on the decision. The former suits my circumstances better – my children live in different parts of the world and I felt ‘Jointly’ may prove too restrictive. Again, this is something that you need to consider, dependant on your own circumstances.
Undertaking this process on my own behalf has been much quicker and simpler than when acting on behalf of someone else, so again I would strongly advise you to do this, if only to save a member of your family having to work through the process at a time when there may be other stresses.
When implementing an LPA is not possible, like myself, you may need to obtain a Deputyship instead.
Although following completion of this the support and guidance I have received from the OPG has been excellent I cannot say the same for the process itself.
I found the communication between myself and the COP Office easy to misunderstand, responses from my queries often took a long time and no matter how quickly I responded to their queries the COP office adhered to the timeline for each procedure. On behalf of my parents I applied for an LPA and a Deputyship at the same time, the LPA took approx. 8 weeks, the Deputyship took 7 months. I maintained regular communication regarding our situation although nothing appeared to encourage them to ‘move the timeline’ at all.
My parent’s financial affairs were in joint accounts so, despite obtaining the LPA on behalf of my father, I could not access anything until the Deputyship process was complete – so also consider your joint accounts and how you would like them to be managed.
I often reflect on that time and the speed at which the COP could finalise the request when informed that my father had died and that now the situation was becoming untenable – Care Home fees and other debts had grown and now there was a funeral. It was all sorted within a week.
In retrospect the speed at which it was all concluded was very frustrating. I am guessing that the documentation was in a tall pile and was swiftly moved to the top.
Although, as stated earlier, the guidance and support from the COP/OPG Case Workers has been very good so – all’s well that ends well.
Have you started your LPA documentation yet?
|Line of People – Photo by Levi Jones on Unsplash|