My Mother has dementia – how do I look after her assets?

When an illness such as dementia strikes it can be distressing to see a loved one struggling to cope with everyday matters such as dealing with their finances or paying their bills.   Without any plans in place helping out might not be as easy as first thought.  Some form of legal authority is usually required by the banks and other institutions before you can deal with a loved one’s affairs.

Ben Holden Director/Solicitor says “first you should check to see if they have made a Lasting Power of Attorney (or LPA).   If not you may have to apply to the Court of Protection for an authority known as a ‘Deputyship Order’”.  Applying to the Court can be a difficult process and to help Emma has set out  some answers to frequently asked questions

Can I get an LPA for my mother?

No.  You will not be able to take out the LPA on your mother’s behalf; she needs to give you power of attorney by making the document.  She will need to have mental capacity (soundness of mind) to make this document.

My mother has been diagnosed with dementia, I’m not sure whether she has capacity – what should I do? 

If the dementia is in the early stages then it may be possible for her to prepare an LPA.  In these circumstances a mental capacity assessment is often carried about by a medical practitioner before the LPA is signed.  The tests for this assessment are quite complex and your lawyer will be able to advise on the best course of action.

What if my mother lacks capacity?

Unfortunately a Lasting Power of Attorney is not possible.  You would need to be appointed by the Court of Protection to be a Deputy to deal with her affairs.  A Deputyship Order allows you to manage your mother’s bank accounts, investments, pensions and if necessary, sell her property.

Who can apply for Deputyship?

Anybody over 18 years can apply if they feel that they are the most appropriate person to do so.  Looking after some else’s affairs can be very difficult.  Ideally you should be well organized, good with paperwork and have the time and energy to carry out the work.  Getting legal advice from the outset is an absolute must and your lawyer will be able to assist you with all stages of the process.

How long will this take?

On average it takes between 8 to 9 months, although in some cases it is possible for the process to take up to a year.  The application forms are quite lengthy and if your mother’s affairs are complex it may take some time to collate all of the information required by the Court.  Your lawyer will be able to guide you through the process, to ensure your Deputyship order is granted as soon as possible,

 Once I am a Deputy, is that it?

No.  From that point you have a duty to look after your mother’s property and financial affairs.   You will need to keep bank statements, receipts and records of any decisions you make.  The Court will contact you on an annual basis to complete a formal account of your activities i.e., details of her income and money spent etc.

What should I do next?

Always seek legal advice.  Applying to Court is laden with rules and procedures and it is all too easy to get it wrong.

Also, if you are reading this article and you have not made an LPA yourself, I would strongly suggest you do so as soon as possible – prevention is better than cure!  

 

About the author

Ben Holden is a Solicitor, Director and Head of the Wills and Probate Department at Donnelly & Elliott Solicitors in Gosport.  He has over a decade of experience in dealing with elderly client matters.  Ben and his team pride themselves on taking the time to understand their clients’ needs whilst offering cost effective legal solutions. Ben is a member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners and a full accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly.

As part of their commitment to excellence in this field, Donnelly and Elliott Solicitors are proud to be accredited members of the Law Society’s Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme

 

 

Date: February 2018

Donnelly & Elliott Limited Solicitors|38 Stoke Road Gosport Hampshire PO12 1JG |02392 505 500| www.gosport-solicitors.co.ukImportant Note: The above information is for general guidance and in part forms the opinion of the author. It is based on the law as at the date of this note. It should not be relied upon in part or in whole as a substitute for independent legal advice.  If any of the issues raised in this article effect you please contact a member of our team.

Donnelly & Elliott Limited is a law firm authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA number 439703. © Donnelly & Elliott - All rights reserved.