One of the issues facing someone who is caring for a person with complex needs or who is approaching the final years of their life is the question of when or if to apply for power of attorney.
If you are providing care at home it may be a good idea to get as much information about this subject as you can, preferably long before you need to and while your client has full mental capacity. Gloucestershire Mental Capacity Act Governance Group has put together a useful flowchart to show how decisions on mental capacity could be made.
What is Power of Attorney?
It is a legally binding written agreement which allows a trusted person to make decisions for the person being cared for or to act on their behalf either temporarily whilst they are in hospital for example or if they become mentally incapacitated through illness. Or if they can make decisions but need help in managing their finances. These circumstances dictate how you can help to manage your client’s affairs.
Option One – Client can make their own decisions but wants to make arrangements for the future
This is probably the most common scenario in which the client receiving homecare wants to safeguard against becoming incapacitated and unable to manage their own affairs. One of the reasons a client may wish to put their affairs on a legal footing concerns the ongoing cost of care specifically to ensure they can continue to receive the best care for the remainder of their lives.
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is the process commonly used for a person aged 18 and over who wishes to make plans for their future financial protection. This gives a nominated person, for instance their carer, the authority to make decisions on their behalf. LPA is split into two sections:
- Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs covering bank accounts, paying bills, selling property and collecting pensions or benefits.
- Power of Attorney for health and welfare covers medical and social care. This can only be used if your client is unable to make their own decisions.
Option Two – Client is unable to make their own decisions
If there isn’t already an LPA in place you can apply to be your client’s appointee which gives you responsibility for organising benefit claims and receipt, or you could apply to be their court appointed deputy which authorises you to make decisions concerning their finances and/or their medical and social care.
As above, the two types are separate, but it is unusual for applications regarding personal welfare appointees to be successful.
Option Three – Client can make their own decisions but wants help managing their money
To help them in managing their benefits and providing there is no LPA in place you could apply to be their appointee. To help them in managing their bank account, you could speak to their bank to request a third party mandate arrangement.
If they want help to manage their bank account plus other finances you could apply for an Ordinary Power of Attorney or a Lasting Power of Attorney.For further information please look at the gov.uk website or contact a solicitor or local advice centre for initial advice.