How to help if you think your loved one has lost their mental capacity
If a loved one has just been diagnosed with a degenerative mental health illness such as dementia, our initial advice would be to ask them to make a 'Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs'. This document empowers a specified person to deal with their finances on their behalf, including when they can no longer make decisions themselves. However, many people delay making them until it is too late.
If your loved one has lost their mental capacity, they are no longer able to make Powers of Attorney. The only option available to you is to apply for a deputyship order through the Court of Protection on their behalf. A deputy has many of the same powers as an attorney for property and financial affairs but is placed under much closer scrutiny by the court. For example, unlike attorneys, a deputy is required to provide the court with a set of annual financial accounts in order to ensure that they have only exercised their power in the donor’s (the person lacking capacity) best interests.
The application process for the appointment of a deputy can be very time consuming (usually taking at least six months to complete) and expensive. Solicitors’ fees for an application are fixed by the court at £950 plus VAT. The court also charges an application court fee of £365 and may charge an additional £100 for checking the deputy’s credentials. It is also necessary to have a medical certificate completed by a medical practitioner to say that your loved one has lost capacity. This service is not covered by the NHS and GPs/consultants will charge for it. The cost varies from one medical practitioner to another. In addition to these initial set up costs, there are ongoing charges including an annual supervision fee which can range from £35 to £320, depending on the level of supervision required.
For more information about powers of attorney or deputyship orders please contact Caroline Cunnington or Helen Pacey at Mossop & Bowser Solicitors, telephone 01406 422651.