Power of Attorney

You may, at some point, feel the need for someone to take over your financial arrangements. If so, you will almost certainly need good legal advice, perhaps at first from Citizens Advice if you have not already got a good solicitor. Because this situations tends to happen when you get older, and some good documentation is available from Age Concern, especially their Factsheet Number 22: Legal Arrangements for Managing Financial Affairs. There are two versions, one for England and Wales and the other for Scotland. Age Concern offices will have these available.
There are a range of options that a relative (or friend) might consider, from very limited permissions to deal with specific issues, to more all embracing powers, including what is called an Enduring Power of Attorney, which enables someone to act virtually in all respects on your behalf in financial matters. A special form is necessary for a Power of Attorney, which gives someone the right to act for you; you will need to sign it, as will your relative and a witness – usually not a family member, but someone who is independent. If, after signing, you become incapable of understanding the situation, then your relative will need to apply to the Court of Protection (part of the Supreme Court) for the Power of Attorney to be recognized, so that he or she can continue to act without your formal consent. If you cannot understand the situation and a Power of Attorney has not been obtained, your relative will have to apply to the Court of Protection (in England) requesting it to act as the
‘Receiver’ of your affairs.
The complex procedures are designed to ensure that a decision to take over someone else’s financial affairs is not taken lightly. It does mean that it is far easier, and less costly, to try and deal with this problem at an early stage, when it can be done with the understanding and agreement of all parties.
By the way, it is also important to make your Will, if you have not already done so; it becomes a complex area of law when a person has failed to make a Will, and subsequently interpretations have to be made of their wishes or intentions.

Financially planning for a child when you have Multiple Sclerosis

If you have not yet written a Will, you ought to do so. Consider the nature of your estate (including your house if you own one), and how best to ensure that the part of it you wish to use for your child is available, with the least taxation as is legally possible on your death. Even if you have made a Will, you may need to ensure that the process of passing on resources is as tax efficient as possible. You will almost certainly need to seek legal and financial advice. If you do not already have a solicitor, get advice first at Citizens Advice in your area.
Another issue is whether it is sensible to transfer some of your assets at an earlier stage than your death to your child. This may have some long-term tax advantages. On the other hand it may reduce the eligibility of your child for certain state benefits both currently and in the future.
Also, another thing to consider is whether your child is likely to be able to manage his or her own finances if you die, and you might need some arrangement whereby someone can manage the financial affairs – in the child’s interests, of course. There are a number of formal ways in which this can be organized – through the setting up of a Trust with your child as a beneficiary, for example. These considerations are invariably complex and need a detailed knowledge of the relevant legal situation; you need sound judgement about the long-term as well as the short-term financial consequences of the chosen course of action. It would be unwise to make major decisions on these issues without impartial advice.