Due to Disability, Old Age, Accident or otherwise you may be in a position where you are managing someone’s affairs. Or you wish to put safeguards in place yourself as an “insurance” policy.
It is always better to be prepared in advance and have legal safeguards in place to help you manage your own affairs or help your family manage theirs.
The problem is the legal area’s that you may encounter when safeguarding yourself or managing someone’s affairs can be a minefield and if documents are not in place, are incorrect, or not used correctly can lead to fines or even prison sentences.
Below is a small summary of the key areas to look out for with links to full guides on the topic if applicable.
The Power to Manage Affairs
If the person still has mental capacity
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney allows the donor to give the power to conduct a specific task to someone they know, or it can give that a wide range of power to manage all their affairs if they are unable to because they are in a different country etc. These however cease to work if they lose mental capacity.
Lasting Power of Attorney
There are two main types of LPA’s. one Propriety and Financial Affairs and the second for Health and Welfare. They can, once registered give the power to certain individual(s) to manage your finances and /or where you live and general health requirements.
Appointees are appointed by the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), and are provided with the authority to manage the state benefits of the client.
Advance Decision (Living Will)
A Living Will (also known as Advanced Directive in Scotland and Advance Decision in England) is a document which sets out the future medical wishes of an individual should they become terminally ill or require medical treatment at a time when they do not have the full mental capacity to make those relevant decisions.
Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)
Do Not Resuscitate orders are orders on a patient’s file which means that a doctor is not required to resuscitate a patient if their heart stops.
Its aim is to stop any unnecessary suffering.
DNR’s normally come in to effect where:
- The pateient has had a heart attack
- Has stopped breating
- Where there is no benefit to the patient
- Where Benefits of resuscitation are outweighed
Pilot Trusts are used to protect insurance and death-in-service benefits from taxation to an extent and to ensure they go to the donors wished individual.
Family Protection Trusts
Family Protection Trust can be used to avoid probate and possibly protect assets from being used to pay for care.
Wills are made to ensure the donor’s assets go to the people who they want. If a Will is not in place it could mean more tax being paid on their estate and property going to members of their family who they do not want it to go to under Intestacy Law.
If the person has lost mental capacity
Works in the same way as LPA’s and offers the protection of the client’s assets, savings or property or control over health and welfare matters. You will have to apply the Court of Protection to get this in place. Failing the same the Local Authority may appoint an individual who will then charge for their services.
If the donor loses capacity before making a will neither they nor their attorneys can make a Will on their behalf, which can lead to contested old Wills, claims against the estate at probate, bottom line a very expensive and distressing time for the family. In this case a Statutory Will may be possible.
Key points to check
Universal Credit is coming soon to UK in full force, putting in new caps for benefits and changing how the system works. However for now have a look at our overview post to ensure you are getting the maximum amount of help possible.
Owning your Own Home / Private Rented
If you or a family member are disabled or of an elderly age, the Local Authority have the ability to provide grants for adaptations to make the property more suitable.
If you are renting a property from a private landlord they have a obligation to keep the property in good repair. If they do not you can get the Local Authority’s Environmental Health Team / Private Sector Housing Team to intervene on your behalf. However please do not withold rent as it can result in eviction proceedings.
If your private rented property is not suitable due to a overcrowding, ASB, disrepair or disability you can apply to go on your Local Authority’s Housing Register to help you find Social housing that is more suitable.
Landlord of property
If you are the landlord ensure a gas and electric certificate is provided to the tenants, the deposit if received is protected if applicable and any disrepair is repaired as soon as possible if you are liable for it under the Tenancy Agreement or implied duties under the law.
Debt management is vital, without managing your expenses especially if your own or the person you are taking care of income is limited you need to stay on top of this. Without managing outstanding bills can result in recover and Bailiff action.
See below for more in detail guides on the topics mentioned above: