Depending on the kinds of difficulties someone’s having with their finances, the help you could provide might involve anything from helping them with bills and paperwork and assisting with their day-to-day money, through to taking on a lasting power of attorney.
Providing informal support
When you’re helping support someone with long-term-care needs, you should try to ensure that they’re making the best use of their money to meet those needs.
This might mean:
- Helping them with their care plan
- That any allocated care budget is used wisely
- Making sure they have money to spend on the hobbies and activities they enjoy
A care plan is a written agreement between you and your health professional and/or social services to help you manage your health and well-being day to day.
The care plan is based on what you want so you’re in control. All the information in your care plan is private and you can share it as you choose.
You can have a care plan review at least once a year. You can also ask for one if you feel the care plan isn’t working or if other things in your life change.
If you find yourself managing a personal care budget that has been awarded by a local authority or the NHS, then it comes with certain responsibilities and obligations that you must fulfil.
What if someone needs more support?
Arranging to formally manage a friend or family member’s money for them is a big step for both of you.
For them it means giving up financial control and entrusting someone else with their money.
For you it means taking on responsibility for someone else’s financial future. So it isn’t something to be entered into lightly.
The law says you must assume someone is able to make their own decisions unless there’s evidence to the contrary.
If the person you’re caring for ‘lacks mental capacity’, and they haven’t already appointed you or someone else to act as their attorney, you can apply to the Office of the Public Guardian to be someone’s ‘deputy’ to formally handle their financial affairs.
This would allow you to deal with, for example, the bank and care providers on their behalf.
If someone’s income only comprises of state pension and/or welfare benefits and no power of attorney exists, then rather than apply to the Court of Protection to become a deputy and application can be made to the department of Work and Pensions to become an appointee enabling you to receive an disburse their income on their behalf. This route can also be used for local authority benefits like housing or council tax benefit.
Bearing all this in mind, it’s a good idea to think about mental capacity now and work out what you might need to do in the future.
Preparing for the future
Don’t put off setting up a permanent power of attorney – it can take weeks to do. These are given slightly different names in each country within the UK.
In England and Wales, they are referred to as a lasting power of attorney, in Scotland as a continuing power of attorney, and in Northern Island, as an enduring power of attorney.
Before setting up a permanent power of attorney you need to know what’s involved – the different types, how much it costs and how long it will take.
It maybe that the person you care for has already set up a permanent power of attorney, or maybe that they set up an enduring power of attorney that was available in England and Wales pre October pre 2007, and that this could still be used but would need to be registered with the Court of Protection beforehand.
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