Who will look after me?

Setting up a power of attorney allows those you trust to take care of you, says Paul Lewis

Senior couple enjoying day out at the beach

If dementia takes away our ability to make decisions, who will look after our money and our welfare?  The simple answer is someone to whom we have given a lasting
or enduring power of attorney.  The details are slightly different in  different parts of the UK.

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You sign a form saying that if you are unable to make decisions for yourself – “lack mental capacity” – then one or more named people can act for you. The law is  clear that they must act only in your best interests, so they cannot take or use your money or assets for themselves.  And if they act in health matters, that must also only be in your best interests. It helps them if you have indicated your wishes about treatment such as operations, drugs and resuscitation.

If you do not make such a power while you still have the mental capacity to do so, then your affairs will be the responsibility of the Court of Protection in England and Wales, the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland, or the Office of Care and Protection in Northern Ireland. They will appoint a guardian (a controller in NI) to look after your affairs.

In England and Wales, you can make a power of attorney yourself without paying anyone to do it for you.  If you want help, I recommend a solicitor. If they get it wrong, you (or your heirs) can get redress. That is not true of other professionals who may do it for you. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you should always use a solicitor.

The fee to register a Lasting Power of Attorney yourself costs £82 per power – health and money – in England and Wales. In Scotland, it’s £81 for both – called
continuing and health. In Northern Ireland, it’s £151 for an Enduring Power of Attorney. Fees can be reduced if your income is low and people on certain benefits are
exempt. A solicitor may charge around £500 to do the job but prices vary widely.

More information Search for “lasting power of attorney” on gov.uk; “power of attorney” on public guardian-scotland.gov.uk; “enduring power of attorney” on
nidirect.gov.uk.

QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com

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  • To enquire about our partner Age Partnership’s Lasting Power of Attorney service, please call 0800 4703266