If you become incapacitated and unable to manage your financial affairs (i.e. pay your bills, manage your bank account and finances generally) someone has to undertake those tasks on your behalf. Such a person has to be legally appointed – your spouse, or another family member, or friend cannot assume the role without due course.
If you have previously drawn up a Lasting Power of Attorney – Property & Finance, and it has been duly registered, the person you appointed as your attorney can step into that role immediately.
If you have not drawn up an LPA a Deputy has to be appointed to fulfil that role – this appointment will be made by the Court of Protection. It will decide who to appoint and it may be that the person chosen will not be known to you or to your family. Dealing with the Court can be time-consuming and complex – and costly, and can take many weeks. The Deputy will be required to account to the Court on an annual basis and, if a professional person such as a solicitor he/she will charge fees, payable from your funds.
Setting up an LPA also has its costs, including the cost of professional advice and Court fees. However, appointing a Deputy will undoubtedly incur large (and ongoing) fees.
The decision, eventually for all of us, is whether to incur the relatively low costs of setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney before the possibility of incapacity, or taking the risk that incapacity will not affect us before death and that the protracted, complex and more expensive costs of having the Court of Protection appointing a Deputy (with consequent distress and inconvenience to your family) will be avoided.