If you are worried about how to get support to make financial decisions if you are unwell, or unable to leave your home, here are a few practical considerations for you.
Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
Putting in place a financial LPA is the most comprehensive way of giving someone the power to make decisions about your financial affairs on your behalf.
If you appoint someone to be your attorney, you can choose to give them the power to help you manage your financial affairs even if you are still able to do so yourself. This might be very relevant if you are at home and unable to interact with the bank and other financial institutions in the normal way.
It is possible to complete a financial LPA online https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney but alternatively we can help you make these arrangements.
General Powers of Attorney
You could consider putting in place a general power of attorney which appoints a family member to look after your financial affairs. The difference between this and an LPA is that if you become unable to manage your affairs (because of incapacity), the arrangements you make under a general power of attorney would not continue to work in these circumstances.
Whichever of these arrangements you put in place it is necessary for a copy of the documentation you have completed to be sent to the organisations you would like your attorney to liaise with on your behalf.
How long does it take to put these arrangements in place?
A general power of attorney can be put into place relatively quickly, it is just a matter of having the documentation drawn up for you. You would then need to sign it in the presence of a witness.
The process for completing a financial affairs LPA is more involved. Once the documentation has been completed it takes between 6 to 8 weeks to register the LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian. Once it is registered the LPA can be used.
What if I haven’t made any of these arrangements and I need someone to help me with my financial affairs?
Many institutions are prepared to liaise with a family member on your behalf provided you have given them instructions to do so. It would be possible for you to telephone or write to many of the utility companies (for example) and ask them to liaise with a named person on your behalf. Some organisations will send you (or your chosen family member) a form to complete and return to them.
What about financial institutions?
Some financial institutions (banks for example) will allow you to nominate a person to have access to your bank accounts without a formal Power of Attorney in place. You can choose to give a family member access to online banking for example. You would need to ask your bank about this specifically.
What other practical arrangements can I make in the short term?
You could consider placing your utility accounts into joint names with your spouse or partner. If you are joint account holders the organisation concerned should take instructions from either of you.
You could add a family member so that they become a signatory to your bank account. However, you should be aware that by doing this you are giving another person unrestricted access to your account.
The advantage of the LPA arrangement is that anyone you appoint to help you with your financial affairs is under a duty to act in your best interests.