Who would you trust to make your decisions for you?

By Dan Hiles, Chartered Financial Planner, Brunel Capital Partners

It is a sad fact of life that many of us will reach a point when we can no longer make decisions for ourselves – it is not a comforting thought.

One thing that can give us some comfort and peace of mind is that, whilst we still have capacity, we all have the power to choose who we would like to make those decisions for us. All we have to do is be proactive and make sure we nominate them whilst we can.

It is a common misconception that the solution is simple – that husbands, wives or next of kin can automatically make those decisions for us. Anyone who has been confronted by the reality will know that this is far from the truth.

Last year my Grandad passed away leaving behind my Grandma who was starting to show signs of advancing dementia. Fortunately, they had acted many years ago to appoint their son (my Dad) as their attorney. When the time came for Grandma to move into a care home he was able to sell her home, speak to her banks, her pension providers (including the Department for Work and Pensions), her utility providers and her care providers to ensure that her move was seamless and that she was able to get the most suitable care in line with her own wishes. Importantly, by preparing well in advance, they had also made time to discuss those wishes should the time come as it now has.

The real value of appointing an attorney in advance only becomes apparent at difficult times

If my Dad had not been appointed as attorney, despite knowing her wishes, he would have been unable to speak to any of these people or arrange his own Mother’s financial or care arrangements. This would have contributed significant levels of stress and time as well as cost to an already difficult situation.

If we don’t appoint our own attorneys and then lose capacity, the only recourse would be to apply to the Court of Protection to become our deputy.

The Court may choose whomever they think is appropriate for this role and in many cases family members are overlooked as they are considered to lack experience due to the additional requirements over and above those of an attorney. The process can take up to six months and cost several thousand pounds. Crucially you no longer get to decide who makes your decisions for you.

I was also speaking to a married couple recently who believed (as I did at the time) that an attorney wasn’t necessary for them as they held everything jointly. In reality, should one holder of a joint account become mentally incapable, many banks reserve the right to cancel the authority for ‘either to sign’ to withdraw funds and will freeze the account until presented with a valid Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) or proof of deputyship.

With the availability of LPAs there is now no need for any of us (or our families) to find themselves in a difficult situation. LPAs are just as important as a Will in safeguarding you, your family and loved ones against financial and emotional strife further down the road.

LPAs are not just for the elderly. Incapacity can happen at any time.

If you are yet to appoint your attorneys please give us a call. We have recently launched a cost-effective service to help you arrange your own LPAs and we would be delighted to help you.

Dan Hiles, 0117 214 0870, dan@brunelcp.com