Q: My friend's father has been suffering for Alzheimer's for some time. She has been looking after him but can no longer cope and is looking for a suitable care home for him. The problem is that despite me and others telling her she should get Power of Attorney whilst he was still able to agree to it, she didn't. Now she doesn't know what to do for the best. What can you advise?
A: If someone is unable to handle their own affairs and there is no formal Power of Attorney in place, then generally the only solution for the person left to handle their affairs is to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a Lay Deputy. The process is however something of a minefield and the complex procedure can be very stressful. Even in cases where someone has already been appointed as a Lay Deputy they frequently need professional advice about specific applications to the Court of Protection. I would therefore suggest that your friend might want to seek guidance from an experienced professional who can support her through the application procedure.
A few larger law firms such as ourselves have a dedicated Court of Protection team who can assist a patient suffering from mental impairment, or their family, in respect of dealing with queries relating to financial matters, provision of services or welfare issues. A Solicitor can act as a professional Deputy on behalf of the patient and also advise Lay Deputies about the legal requirements of their role. Additionally he or she will have experience of dealing with the preparation of what is known as a Statutory Will. This is a Will that has been approved by the Court on behalf of a patient, often necessary due to circumstances changing after an individual is brought under the auspices of the Court of Protection.