If a person becomes incapable of handling their own financial affairs through some sort of incapacity, someone else has to take over. If forethought has been applied and an attorney appointed under a registered Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), that person can immediately begin to handle the person’s affairs, according to the powers given to them in the LPA.
However, if no LPA was established prior to the onset of incapacity, a Deputy has to be appointed by the Court of Protection to manage the person’s affairs. The law decrees that no spouse or other relative or friend can take up the role without the sanction of the Court of Protection
Dealing with the Court can be time consuming and complex – and costly. Appointment of a Deputy can take many weeks, and the person eventually appointed may be someone not even known to the incapacitated person.
The Court will determine the powers that the Deputy has in acting on as person’s behalf and will grant them responsibility for property and financial affairs including maintaining a bank account, paying bills, purchasing property, and arranging finances generally.
The Deputy will have to account to the Court on an annual basis (for which the Court will levy fees, the levels of which are pre-determined according to the expertise of the deputy). The Court will supervise the Deputy in their duties throughout the duration of the deputyship to the degree commensurate with the Court’s view of their competence and experience.
Setting up an LPA also has its costs, including the cost of professional advice and Court fees.
However, appointing a Deputy will undoubtedly incur larger (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 appoint a Deputy (with consequent distress and inconvenience to our family) will be avoided.