Managing the affairs of someone who has lost mental capacity

If your loved one has lost mental capacity, they will need assistance with their finances.

Where they have already prepared a registered Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (or an old Enduring Power of Attorney), their attorneys will have the legal authority to deal with their finances.

If there is no power of attorney in place, you may need to apply to the Court of Protection to become a property and financial affairs deputy.

How can Timbrell Law help?

If you are concerned about a loved one and their ability to look after their affairs, we can help by:

  • preparing an deputyship application; and
  • providing advice to the proposed deputies to help them better understand their role.

For further information about caring for someone who has lost or is losing capacity, visit our blog.

Frequently Asked Questions – Deputyship Applications

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

An LPA is a legal document that allows you to appoint individuals you trust, known as attorneys, to make decisions on your behalf. Naming an attorney means that if you become ill or are involved in an accident and lose mental capacity, you know exactly who will be making decisions for you. Back to Index

Why should I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Without a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, your loved ones will have to make an application to the Court of Protection to be granted the authority to manage your financial affairs (this is called a “deputyship order”). In the interim, the bank will freeze your accounts and potentially leave your affairs in limbo.

A deputyship application is time-consuming and more expensive than preparing an LPA. The Court also places ongoing obligations on those appointed; for example, deputies must submit a report every year enclosing financial accounts and details of decisions made on your behalf.

If you lose mental capacity without a Health and Welfare LPA, decisions about your health will be made by the medical professionals involved in your case or the local authority. While it is usually the case that these authorities act respectfully and consult your family, there are instances where the medical professionals and family members disagree.

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What types of decision can be made under a Lasting Power of Attorney?

There are two types of LPA:
  1. The Property and Financial Affairs LPA
    This LPA allows your attorneys to make financial decisions; for example, paying your bills, dealing with your savings and investments, operating your bank accounts, collecting any income, benefits and pension due to you, maintaining your home and even buying and selling property.
  3. The Health and Welfare LPA
    This LPA allows your attorneys to make decisions concerning your health and wellbeing. It includes decisions about your medication and treatment and where you live. You also have the option of allowing your attorneys to make decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment. You don’t have to have existing health problems to make an LPA.
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How can a Lasting Power of Attorney help someone diagnosed with dementia?

A diagnosis of dementia does not necessarily mean that a person cannot make an LPA.  Although, it is essential to start thinking about these practical arrangements as soon as possible. Preparing an LPA will ensure that there is someone with the legal authority to support your loved one with their finances and health as their dementia progresses.  

Our solicitors are experts in issues of mental capacity and will be able to sit down with your loved one to assess their capacity to make an LPA and set out the options clearly and concisely.  If your loved one is deemed not to have the capacity to make an LPA, we can assist with a deputyship application.

For more information, see our recent blog on LPAs and living with dementia.

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What is the difference between an Enduring Power of Attorney and Lasting Power of Attorney?

LPAs replaced EPAs on 1 October 2007.  Although, EPAs signed before this date should still be capable of use.  For a full comparison, please visit our blog on this topic.

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Can a Lasting Power of Attorney be revoked or changed?

You can end (i.e. revoke) your LPA, so long as you have the mental capacity to make that decision.  You will need to sign a formal Deed of Revocation and notify a number of required individuals. 

If you want to change your LPA, for example by removing an attorney and appointing another person to act, you will need to revoke your existing LPA and sign a fresh one.

If you would like assistance to end an LPA, please contact our specialists.

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What is the Court of Protection?

The Court of Protection deals with the affairs of people who have lost mental capacity, either by making financial or welfare decisions for them or by giving another person (i.e. a deputy) the authority to do so. The most common application to the Court of Protection is to appoint a deputy to manage the financial affairs of a person who lacks capacity. Back to Index

Who can be a deputy?

You can only be a deputy for a person who lacks capacity if you are over the age of 18. Ideally, the deputyship application should be made by someone who knows the person who has lost mental capacity well, understands their wishes and can involve them as much as possible in making decisions — for example, a family member or close friend. In any event, before deciding to make an order, the Court will look at the suitability of the proposed deputy. Back to Index

What are the duties of a deputy?

When making decisions as a deputy, you must act in accordance with the principles of the Mental Capacity Act and the accompanying Code of Practice. You can find and view the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice at Back to Index

What decisions can I make as a deputy?

The Court of Protection will decide what powers are appropriate and set these out in the deputyship order. If you are acting as a deputy, you must take care not to exceed your authority. With that in mind, you may need to go back to the Court of Protection to seek further permissions. For example, you will generally need additional authority to make a loan on behalf of a person who lacks capacity, to make large gifts or use the person’s funds to support another. Back to Index

Should I keep records while acting as a deputy?

Yes, you must keep a record of all dealings and transactions made on behalf of the person who lacks capacity. Papers to be retained should include copies of all bank statements, contracts, receipts of purchases and any correspondence that you have sent as deputy. You will need this information to complete the annual deputy report. Back to Index

How do I apply to the Court of Protection to be a deputy?

To apply to be a deputy, you need to complete a paper application and obtain a capacity report confirming the loss of mental capacity. The paperwork is very detailed and can take a long time to complete. If you decide not to seek professional advice, you must be confident about the order you are asking the Court to make and what decisions you may need to make in the future. The Court will not grant you more powers than you have requested. We can help:
  • assess whether a person lacks capacity and if a Court application is necessary;
  • work with you to prepare the application;
  • prepare instructions for a capacity report; and
  • guide you through the Court process.
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Who can make a Will?

As long as you are over the age of 18 and have the requisite “testamentary capacity”, you can make a Will. Back to Index

Do I need a Will?

Signing a Will is primarily about making the lives of those you leave behind easier and protecting their inheritance. Many people do not fully understand how their estate will be divided if they die without a Will; in fact, the truth can be surprising. Not making a Will is still a choice and it is important that you understand what will happen on your death.
At Timbrell Law, we believe everyone should make a Will because you never know what is lurking around the corner. That said, making a Will should be at the forefront of your mind if:
  • You own property.
  • You own or have an interest in a business.
  • You are cohabiting with a long-term partner.
  • You are getting married or remarried.
  • You are starting a family or have children under the age of 18.
  • You are getting a divorce or have separated.
  • You want to make gifts to godchildren, wider family, friends or charity.
  • You want to skip a generation and provide for your grandchildren.
  • Your estate will have to pay inheritance tax.
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What is wrong with a DIY Will?

There is no reason why a DIY Will should not be valid; however, the onus is on you to get it right.

Ultimately, preparing a Will without professional advice can lead to problems later down the line. If your Will is ambiguous, incorrectly signed, fails to deal with your entire estate or attempts to do something not permitted by the law, these failings will only be discovered on your death causing problems for your family and those left to deal with your estate.

Similarly, whilst you might believe that a simple Will is all you need, speaking with a professional can tease out issues that you simply have not considered.
If you don’t want the hassle of meeting with a solicitor face to face, we can help you prepare a Will remotely and out of office hours. This way you still receive the benefit of a professionally drafted Will, but at your convenience. Back to Index

I don’t have a significant amount of money, should I bother with a Will?

Yes. Whilst you may not have a large estate now, this could change in the future.
Similarly, as part of preparing your Will, you should also consider any death in service benefits and life assurance that may pay out on your death. Back to Index

My children are still young, should I wait until they are 18 to prepare a Will?

No. For parents of children under the age of 18, the best way to appoint legal guardians for your children is through your Will. This ensures that should something happen to both of you, the legal guardians chosen by you will have parental responsibility immediately and be able to concentrate on looking after your children. Back to Index

What happens to my assets, if I die without a Will?

If you die without a Will, the division of your estate will be governed by the intestacy rules. The resulting effect may not be as you would have wanted, so it is important to be aware of the position.
Not making a Will is a choice to accept the effect of these rules. They will also determine who has the authority to administer your estate. Back to Index

What do executors do?

Your executors are responsible for administering your estate after your death.
They will need to notify third parties, collect in details of the assets and liabilities in your estate, apply for a grant of probate, inform the beneficiaries of their entitlement, collect in your assets, settle any debts, taxes, legacies, funeral and administration expenses and distribute the remainder in accordance with your Will.
Your executors might be family members, trusted friends or even your business partners.  Alternatively, you may wish to appoint a professional, such as a solicitor or accountant, to act.
Where you appoint non-professionals, there is nothing to prevent them seeking advice at the time.  This may include help obtaining the grant of probate or assistance with the estate administration as a whole.  For details of how Timbrell Law supports executors, click here. Back to Index

Can I include funeral wishes in my Will?

Yes, you can include funeral or cremation wishes in your Will. These wishes will not be binding but are normally followed where possible. Back to Index

What type of gifts can I make under my Will?

Under your Will you can make specific gifts of property, personal possessions or cash. These will be distributed from your estate first, following the payment of any debts, funeral and administration expenses and any tax due, the remainder will be divided amongst those named as your residuary beneficiaries. Back to Index

Can a Will help protect my property against care home fees

For couples, protection can be obtained through Asset Protection Wills. If you would like to know more, please get in touch. Back to Index

When is a Will valid?

A Will is valid from the date it is signed providing it is executed properly.  A common reason for the failure of DIY Wills is the fact that they have not be properly signed and witnessed. 
All Wills prepared by Timbrell Law include clear signing instructions and are checked by a professional after you have signed. Back to Index

Where should I keep my Will?

It is incredibly important to keep your original Will safe so that your executors can prove your Will on your death.  Wherever you store your Will you must consider the risk of fire, flooding and theft. Timbrell Law offers storage of original documents for an annual fee. Back to Index

How often should I review my Will?

You should review your Will whenever your personal circumstances change.  We make sure to stay in touch with our clients to make changing your Will as easy as possible. Back to Index

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If you live further afield, we would still be happy to help. Please get in touch today for our online services.