Legal issues for carers

Legal issues for carers

Carers have some legal matters to consider, most notably questions around 'power of attorney' and options for taking control of the affairs of the person they care for.

Looking to the future

One of the main legal issues affecting you as a carer, is what to do when you need to take over someone else’s affairs, and officially make decisions for them.

If you’re looking after someone, they may be able to manage their own money, and affairs, but some people become less able to do this over time. Setting up ‘power of attorney’ can help you both, as you know there is a plan in place for the future, in case the person you care for can no longer do it themselves.

If you’re aged 18 or older and have the mental ability to make financial, property and medical decisions for yourself, you can arrange for someone else to make these decisions for you in the future. This legal authority is called ‘lasting power of attorney’. You are the ‘donor’ and the person who is given power of attorney is the ‘attorney’ and must also be over 18..

Thank goodness my father had set up power of attorney not long before he had his stroke; it made things so much easier for us all.

Carer, Surrey

Lasting power of attorney

There are two types of power of attorney, which enable you to act on behalf of the person you are caring for. They need to be capable of looking after their affairs when the arrangement is set up, and it lies unactivated until, and if, a time comes when they can longer manage this themselves, when they ‘lack mental capacity’.

Power of attorney for property and financial affairs

If you are the ‘attorney’, you will be able to act on behalf of the person who has nominated you. Either it is demonstrated medically that they can no longer look after their own money, or they could decide they no longer wish to.

Power of attorney for health and welfare

This works the same way, and enables the attorney to make medical decisions on someone’s behalf, if they can no longer do this themselves.

These can be set up at any stage in life. It can be useful to any of us to have this in place, so that you know someone will look after your affairs if you could no longer do so, through accident or illness. It can also be valuable to have talked to your family about your future plans.  These can be included in the attorney’s instructions, or they can just make sure they understand the person’s wishes about, for example, their longer-term health treatment.

There is full information on the government’s webpage about power of attorney.

The process costs (2020) £82.00 (although there are exemptions and reductions under some circumstances) and you can handle the paperwork yourself, but many people like to do it through a solicitor, which will cost more.

For children

If you’re the parent or guardian of a child that is expected to lack capacity as an adult, it can be very difficult to navigate the complex options that exist for managing their financial affairs and decision making.

What to choose

There are many approaches to consider, but what is the right choice – Trustee?  Attorney? Appointee? Executor? Or Deputy?

The article below, by Stacey Bryant. Stacey, Solicitor and Legal Director at Enable Law, helpfully explores these options in more detail in relation to decisions concerning property and affairs.

Power of Attorney Article

Further information

There’s a lot of factors to consider including the age of the person, their mental capacity, and what responsibilities you think you should take over.

A very useful website, from Surrey County Council, is ‘Caring to the End‘ which outlines many issues carers may need to consider when their loved one is nearing end of life, including legal matters.

Caring to the End

Carers UK have comprehensive and up-to-date information.

Carers UK guidance

Legal Matters events

Action for Carers frequently hold events on legal matters and planning for the future. Take a look at our Events pages for more information.

Let us help you

Our staff understand the process, so let us help. If you have further questions, please get in touch and our Carer Advisors will help you and signpost you to further sources of support.

Call us on 0303 040 1234 or email CarerSupport@actionforcarers.org.uk. You can also text us (SMS) on 07714 075993.

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