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We all know that people are living longer. In some cases, a person is able to live independently right up until the day they die. However, in many instances this is not the case, and the responsibility of putting everything in order often falls to the person’s children.

As a solicitor in our Wills and Probate team, I am contacted by children of elderly parents on an almost daily basis, people who are trying their best to help, but simply don’t know where to start.

The most difficult circumstances to deal with are where the elderly parent has not planned ahead, and does not have a power of attorney in place. If the parent no longer has the mental capacity to make a power of attorney then, unfortunately, the only option to enable anyone to assist with their finances is for someone to apply to the Court of Protection for what is called a “deputyship order”. Once a deputyship order is in place, this allows the person appointed to deal with the financial affairs of the person who lacks capacity. However, it can be a lengthy and expensive process, and causes additional stress at a time when family members are often already dealing with a difficult situation. Even once the order is in place, the work is not done. The person appointed continues to be supervised by the Court, and has to complete an annual account showing how they have dealt with the person’s money.

If you have an elderly parent, have you spoken to them about completing a power of attorney? If they do not already have one in place, I would urge you to discuss the issue with them now, and explain to them the risks involved in not putting an appropriate power of attorney in place. It is of course entirely their decision whether they go ahead, and their decision who they appoint, but if they are open to the idea then arranging for them to speak to a solicitor sooner rather than later is the best way forward. It is the last thing anyone wants to be worrying about if their parents start needing more care in the future.

If you need any advice, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our Wills, Trusts and Probate team on 0161 930 5151 who will give you advice on how to put measures in place.