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Talk Money Week

View profile for Leah Woodnott
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Talk Money Week

Talk Money Week takes place between 8 November to 12 November.  The awareness week is an opportunity for people to have more open conversations about their finances with their loved ones.

It is important for people to be open and have frank conversations about their assets and overall finances and research shows that sharing the burden will make people feel less anxious about money discussions. 

One thing to consider when talking about your finances is whether you should put in place a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (“PFA LPA”).

What is a PFA LPA?

This is a document which allows you (as the donor) to appoint people as your attorneys who will then have the legal authority to manage your property and financial affairs, in the event that you are not able to.

What does it cover?

A PFA LPA allows your attorneys to make decisions about your affairs, such as:-

  • Managing your bank account and investments
  • Contacting the Department for Work and Pensions regarding your pension arrangements
  • Access your funds to pay utility bills
  • Having the authority to sell your property

What is involved?

The donor will need to sign documentation confirming the names of the people that they would like to appoint as their attorneys. The attorneys will also have to sign the PFA LPA confirming that they are happy to act. 

In addition, a certificate provider will have to sign paperwork confirming that the donor has made the LPA by choice and that they are not being unduly influenced to put the document in place and that they have the mental capacity to put the document in place. 

Once signed, the PFA LPA will need to be sent to the Office of the Public Guardian for registering.  They charge a fee of £82.00 to register the same.  Once it has been registered, then it can be used by the attorneys, as set out in the document itself.    

When can it be used?

When filling out the application, you can list when you would like attorneys to make decisions on your behalf. 

One option would be to allow your attorneys to be able to act as soon as the document has been registered and when you have lost mental capacity.  This is the most flexible way to appoint attorneys because it means that your attorneys can act when you have not lost capacity and when you have.  For example, it may be that you have had a fall and must stay at home and cannot go to the bank to pay a utility bill.  The attorney would still have the authority to go to the bank on your behalf and settle the bill. 

Whilst you have mental capacity then your attorneys can only act with your consent.    

The other option would be to allow your attorneys to act only once you have lost mental capacity.  This is quite restrictive, and it may be harder to use as your attorneys may have to prove every time that they want to use the LPA, that you have lost capacity.
 

What happens if I have not put in place a PFA LPA and I have lost capacity?

If you do not have a PFA LPA in place and you lose capacity, then no one has the legal authority to access your financial accounts. 

Your loved ones will therefore have to make an application to become your “deputies”.  This is a much lengthier process than making a PFA LPA and involves making a detailed application to the Court outlining the person’s finances with a request that they be given the authority to manage their property and financial affairs.  In terms of timescales, this takes a lot longer for the application to be made and is a lot more costly. 

In addition, the deputies will have to provide annual accounts to the court about the person’s finances.

By putting in place a PFA LPA it can give you and your loved ones peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in order and if you need any financial assistance in the future, then your chosen attorneys will have the relevant authority to act on your behalf. 

If you would like to put in place a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney then please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialists.  

I am based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217609 or by email on leah.woodnott@birkettlong.co.uk.

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