Empowering Others To Help You

February 2018
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It's not often that the cost of things goes down and even rarer for a retrospective refund to be offered to those who have already paid for a service. But that is what the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is offering to those who arranged a power of attorney between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017. 

Anyone who registered a power of attorney between these dates is due a refund which may be claimed by the donor or attorney on their behalf, this includes for those who may have died since. The process for applying is explained here www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund or call 0300 456 0300. A double refund is payable where attorneys for both health and welfare and for financial affairs have been registered.

Not having a power of attorney can be very costly. Those who have not yet arranged one may wish to consider the consequences of not being able to deal with their own financial affairs, nor make decisions about their own welfare.

The usual reaction to this question is "I haven't lost my marbles yet!" Unfortunately loss of mental capacity means that it would no longer be possible to make a valid appointment and so this is a contingency which needs to be planned for in advance.

While age can increase the chances of loss of capability to deal with one's own affairs, either due to loss of mental faculties or physical barriers, it is not exclusively a third age problem, nor is it necessarily a permanent state, capacity can also be lost temporarily. 

A 45 year old motor cyclist involved in a serious road accident temporarily lost capacity to deal with his affairs while he spent weeks in a coma and slowly recovered. During that time he could not access cash, claim on his insurance nor renew his home insurance, pay bills, make any changes to his investments nor make decisions about his treatment. 

His family had to apply to the OPG to be able to handle his affairs via the appointment of a Deputy. This process can take many weeks and cost much more than that of registering a Lasting Power of Attorney and problems caused by the delay can cost even more. 

A daughter was forced to cash part of her own Individual Savings Account to pay a deposit for her 80 year old mother's care home or risk losing the place. Despite the mother having ample funds of her own, she had refused to register a power of attorney beforehand and now no longer had the capacity to do so. Consequently no one could access her bank account. Her daughter had to sacrifice her own tax efficient savings to bridge the gap.

A 75 year old lady, who lived alone, was fully in possession of her mental faculties the day she fainted in the park while walking her dog. The fall resulted in a fractured collar bone and wrist. She decided on a residential care home to recuperate but could not sign the cheque for the deposit required to secure her place. Fortunately she had appointed an attorney who was able to access her funds and book the care home for her.

Registering a power of attorney does not mean handing over control of financial affairs immediately or forever. It does mean that should you need help in managing your affairs in the future, it will be available straight away and with the minimum of cost. 

- A LPOA registration costs £82 per application, compared to £400 for application for Deputyship plus a £500 court hearing fee. 

Kay Ingram
Director of Public Policy, LEBC

Please remember, no news or research item is a recommendation or advice to buy. LEBC Group Ltd is not responsible for accuracy and may not share the author’s views. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate legal services. 

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