Tough decisions in a time of national difficulty

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The impact on all of us of the coronavirus pandemic is profound – we have no blueprint for how to deal with something on this scale, and people have many worries, including about their finances.

We know that many business are struggling and fear what the future will hold – for those business owners, as for the rest of the country, difficult decisions have to be made.

Some of those choices are especially hard for people who are not in a position to actively deal with things for themselves; if they are ill, are self-isolating or are vulnerable. Picking up pensions, claiming benefits, setting up standing orders for utilities, sorting debt arrears – the list of issues to be dealt with is long, and there are almost as many reasons why dealing with these matters is not easy or even possible sometimes.

Lasting powers of attorney

Lawyers frequently advocate lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) as a solution and indeed, they are the gold standard. However, some people may not have made their LPAs yet, and if not, what can be done to help them deal with these unprecedented circumstances?

Since LPAs can take up to four months because of the court process involved, we would advocate that people think about having an ordinary power of attorney put in place.

How will a power of attorney help?

The power of attorney will enable someone else to give you financial assistance (they do not relate to health decisions as an LPA can), they can be made by a mentally competent adult (over 18) and will last up to one year (unless you die or lose mental capacity in that time frame). They are widely recognised as a valid form of power of attorney and can be used immediately after the last person signs.

You can limit them in terms of time and scope – for instance, they could enable someone to complete on buying a property if you can’t physically do this. Powers of attorney can provide some immediate relief for older people, those with underlying health conditions, people with mental illness, those with mild learning disability or simply people who are incapacitated by injury or illness of some other type.

In fact, they can provide benefit for anyone who finds themselves caught out in this crisis. They might well ease the minds of the elderly or vulnerable stuck in their homes who have no access to internet banking, and their families, who will be concerned for their wellbeing and cannot visit them.

We can take instructions by phone/Facetime etc and could have these back to you within 48 hours, together with a handy crib sheet of what your attorney needs to do next.

Do contact Annabel Kay on 07467 805 009 or at akay@hcrlaw.com