On the 28th April the online version of the Daily Mail published an article (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2316261/Neil-IQ-125-runs-business-So-wont-secret-court-let-spend-money.html?ICO=most_read_module ) about a “secret court” that controls the assets of thousands of the country’s most vulnerable people.
The Court of Protection (“CoP”) is a court of record that appoints people, known as deputies, to look after the financial interests and welfare of those that, through injury or illness cannot make these decisions for themselves and have not already made provision for such circumstances. It is primarily concerned with protecting these vulnerable people from potential financial, physical or emotional abuse, however, it has recently received heavy criticism from a number of corners for being slow, expensive to use and seemingly unmoved by the feelings and sensitivities of those who it is there to serve and their families.
An application to the CoP would normally cost a minimum of £825.00 in solicitors’ fees. There are also Court fees, appointment fees and annual insurance premiums that all must be paid before a deputy is allowed to take control of the patient’s affairs. These will often bring the total paid to approaching the £2,000 mark.
The number of applicants in recent times has meant that the CoP is just not able to progress matters in a timely manner and as such has left patients and their carers frustrated at a lack of movement at a time when in strict legal terms a vacuum exists as to who is to care for the patient and how this is to be funded.
The requirement to return to the Court in order to seek approval for the payment of costs not strictly for the use and benefit of the patient, for example tuition fees for children of university age or private education can cause unnecessary distress and further costs.
Dealings with the CoP can be avoided and as is usual prevention is better than cure. By making a Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) now while you have the capacity to do so you can have a say over who is to control your finances in the event that you are ever unable to do so. An LPA can also be used to give your Attorney the power to make decisions about your health and wellbeing including the ability to maintain or refuse life sustaining treatment.
Without a valid LPA you leave yourself and your loved ones at the mercy of what has been dubbed in the media as “Britain’s most secret court”.
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