Q: My mother is 92 and recently she has needed help with managing her affairs. I arranged for her to sign cheques without using a Power of Attorney but she has now been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and will need to go into a care home. Is it too late to apply for Power of Attorney?
A: Unfortunately, if your mother no longer has the mental capacity to handle her affairs she would not be able to give the necessary instructions to create a Power of Attorney. The only option now is for you to apply to the Court of Protection, seeking appointment as your mother's Deputy. A Deputy is someone authorised by the Court of Protection to handle a patient's financial affairs.
As applying to the Court of Protection is quite a complex procedure you may wish to seek the advice of a solicitor who is experienced in dealing with such applications. As well as being able to advise on the costs and timescales involved, he or she will also be able to help with the practicalities of managing your mother's affairs in the interim.
The Court application will need to be accompanied by a full statement of your mother's financial affairs, a medical certificate confirming her incapacity and various other supporting declarations. The application can take 16-21 weeks or even longer, so the sooner the process is started the better. Once you have been appointed Deputy you will also have to undertake a number of time-consuming and onerous duties associated with the ongoing management of your mother's financial affairs, including keeping clear accounting records for annual submission to the Court. As you can probably now see, setting up a Power of Attorney would have been the easier way of handling your mother's affairs.