Q: My elderly mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and has recently been admitted into a local Care Home. Her condition has progressed to the stage where she can no longer sign cheques so I went to the bank to see what I should do. They said they required a Power of Attorney before they would give me any information. I am worried because my mother owns a house and I cannot pay any bills in relation to this without access to her account. Should I ask a solicitor to prepare a Power of Attorney for my mother?
A: If your mother lacks the capacity to handle her financial affairs then it would not be possible for her to give instructions to prepare a Power of Attorney. The only other recourse (in light of the information above) is to seek to be appointed as your mother's "Deputy". A deputy is someone authorised by the Court of Protection to handle a patient's financial affairs.
The application to the Court is time-consuming and requires a great deal of information in support, namely a statement of your mother's financial affairs, a medical certificate confirming her incapacity and various supporting declarations. Applications to the Court of Protection are also notoriously slow, often taking 16-21 weeks or even longer. Therefore the sooner an application is made, the sooner your mother's affairs can be put back on track.
There are also a number of time-consuming and onerous duties associated with the ongoing management of a patient's financial affairs, which require the Deputy to keep clear accounting records for annual submission to the Court. I would strongly advise you to seek the advice of a solicitor who is experienced in dealing with these types of application, who will understand the costs, timescales and practical ways which, in the interim, your mother's affairs could be managed.