Best intentions can cost loved ones dearly

Published: 27/03/2014

Much is made of how not making a Will can leave loved ones vulnerable. However a recent case has highlighted the significant impact not having a Lasting Power of Attorney can also have on your nearest and dearest. Linda Cummins, Head of Wills and Probate, explains:

“This story involves a daughter who, along with her partner, had been taking care of her 90-year-old mother who was suffering from progressive dementia. The informal arrangement was made with her brother over Christmas dinner 2009 and her mother has been living with her ever since.

“During this time the daughter chose to sell her mother’s home. She also arranged for state benefits and retirement pension to be diverted into her account.

“For many people this may appear the most practical thing to do. However the problem lies in the fact that this was all done without legal authority. Her mother did not have a Lasting Power of Attorney in which she named her daughter as her Attorney which meant, in order to legally take responsibility for her mother’s finances, the daughter should have applied to the Court of Protection for an Order from the Court to be appointed as her mother’s Deputy.

“As a result she has now been ordered to pay legal costs which amount to a considerable sum.

“This is an unfortunate situation but one that we hear all too often. With an ageing population illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s will affect more and more of us so it is essential we take steps to protect our loved ones and ourselves should this ever happen.

“A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows you to appoint an Attorney to look after your affairs if you are unable to do so. Without an LPA no one, not even your spouse or partner, has the automatic right or ability to take charge of your finances which, as a result, could mean critical bills, such as the mortgage, council tax or energy bills, could go unpaid or, in this instance, your loved ones being ordered to pay considerable legal costs.”

Content correct at time of publication

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