The impact of Coronavirus
The impact on all of us of the coronavirus is profound – we have no blueprint for how to deal with something on this scale, and people have many worries, including about their finances.
This is especially the case if they are not in a position to actively deal with things for themselves. Picking up pensions, claiming benefits, setting up standing orders for utilities, sorting debt arrears – the list 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 10 weeks, we would advocate that people think about having an ordinary power of attorney put in place.
This is purely to 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 the client dies or loses 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.
Clients can limit them in terms of time and scope – for instance, they could enable someone to complete on buying a property if the buyer is not physically able to do this. Powers of attorney can provide some immediate relief for older clients, clients with underlying health conditions, clients with mental illness, those with mild learning disability or simply clients 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 and might well ease the minds of the elderly or vulnerable stuck in their homes who have no access to internet banking.
We can take instructions by phone/Facetime etc and could have these back to clients within 48 hours together with a handy crib sheet of what your attorney needs to do next.