Q&A - Mother cannot manage her affairs or sign cheques for bills

22/08/2011

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.

Richard Lloyd

Richard Lloyd

Partner

Our Senior Partner and Head of the Property department in Oswestry

John Marshall

John Marshall

Partner

A Partner and Head of our Probate, Wills, Tax and Trusts department in Wrexham