Q&A - Must I get Mum declared unfit before I use Power of Attorney to sell her home?

01/06/2015

Q:  My mother has Alzheimer’s. Just after my father died she agreed to my sister and I getting Power of Attorney so that we could take care of her affairs. We have both kinds, for money and for health and welfare, and were appointed jointly and severally. Earlier this year, Mum admitted to being frightened of living alone in her own home and of her own volition she went into a care home. She wouldn’t however hear of her house being sold in case she didn’t like the care home. She has started talking about wanting to go home recently but she could not safely take care of herself now.

I am now faced with two problems. Firstly, my sister has gone to live in Australia, Secondly, before the end of this year my mother’s house will have to be sold to fund her care. This begs two questions – can I act without my sister being here and do we need to get Mum declared mentally unfit to make decisions before I can sell the house?

A:  Provided there are no restrictions contained within it and as long as the Property & Affairs Power of Attorney has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, then you can sell your mother’s house for her. Further, as you and your sister were appointed to act jointly and severally, either one of you has the authority to act alone in signing sale documents etcetera.

You do however have a duty to the Court to act in your mother’s best interests so you should get written confirmation from her doctor that she would not be able to look after herself safely if she were to return home. Before you can use the powers granted to you in the LPA it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. If you are not confident about acting on her behalf you should seek legal advice.

Victoria Wilson

Victoria Wilson

Partner

A Partner and Part of our Probate, Wills, Trusts and Tax team in Oswestry