If there is no Lasting Power of Attorney in place a common law spouse or partner or parent of an adult has NO legal right to take charge, but neither do any of the legal relatives.
So if disaster strikes and you have no Lasting Power of Attorney, your family or friends will have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your “Deputy”. This is just an expensive and restricted version of the Attorney which would have been appointed under a LPA except it won’t be up to you who the Court of Protection appoints to look after you. The Court of Protection doesn’t know your family or who you would trust so it’s possible they may choose the wrong person entirely, which could be a personal disaster if that person doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
If there is an argument over who should be appointed as your deputy you end up paying all the legal costs as the person being fought over, so costs which start at a couple of thousand could end up being tens of thousands.
In the absence of a good agreed family candidate for the role of your “deputy” the Court of Protection may appoint a solicitor to do everything for you. This will involve costs of £180 to £300 an hour for a solicitor to pay your bills, make your decisions and make visits to check up on you.
I think most people would agree that they would rather pay £250-£300 now for the proper advice and service than risk the potential loss of tens possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds in the future.
Mrs S lived on her own in the country, she was an independent, strong willed lady in her 60s who kept active, enjoyed gardening and was used to looking after herself having been a widow for some years.
When making a Will she was told that a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) could be a great help should she become unable to make her own financial arrangements for any reason. However Mrs S decided against this as she did not think anything would happen to her.
Unfortunately Mrs S suffered an unexpected severe stroke that left her unable to communicate or make decisions for herself.
Due to the lack of LPA’s she had to make an application to Court for the appointment of a Deputy to take control of her financial and property issues but sadly her family could not come to an agreement as to who should be appointed. Therefore a solicitor was employed to deal with all the financial and property matters and the costs of the Court application and substantial ongoing administration amounted to thousands of pounds. If Mrs S had made a LPA this could have easily been avoided and she would have chosen for herself who she wanted to look after her property and finances.