Having a stroke can sometimes mean that a person needs help with managing their legal or financial matters. If you are caring for someone, there are some ways you can help.
Support with everyday finances
Some people find it hard to manage their money, such as signing cheques or using online banking.
If someone has problems using bank services because of sight loss or communication difficulties, ask the bank if they have any help to allow people with disabilities to access their services. This could include talking cash machines, large print bank statements, communication support in the branch or accessible debit cards.
Many banks allow someone to operate a bank account for another person on a short-term basis. To do this, the account holder can write to the bank or use the bank’s third party mandate form.
Support with making decisions
If someone is unable to make their own decisions, for example due to cognitive problems or dementia, a carer or friend with power of attorney can take over. Having power of attorney means that a nominated person is able to make decisions about someone’s property and finances or their health and welfare.
You can appoint more than one person to have a power of attorney, and you can cancel it at any time.
You must be able to make your own decisions at the time you give someone power of attorney. This is known as having mental capacity. Because of this, it’s a good idea to try to plan ahead.
If you feel that there could be a time in the future when you or your family member might not be able to make decisions, you can set up a power of attorney now. It can take some time for the PoA to be set up, so having one ready in advance can make things easier if it’s needed. This can be helpful for you and others by avoiding delays in managing some or all of your affairs. An attorney will not be able to use their powers unless you lose mental capacity.
If someone has already lost mental capacity, relatives can apply for legal and financial control. This involves fees and some legal work, and can be stressful. There is no specific age for setting up a PoA, and you don’t have to be unwell to apply.
Power of attorney (PoA)
There are two types of power of attorney in England and Wales. A property and affairs lasting power of attorney (LPA) gives someone authority to make decisions about income, bills and the sale of a person’s house. A personal welfare LPA allows someone to make decisions on where the person will live and the day-to-day care or medical treatment he or she may receive.
In Northern Ireland there is only one type of power of attorney, called an enduring power of attorney, which covers property and affairs, but not healthcare.
In Scotland, there are three types of power of attorney (PoA). Continuing PoA gives powers to deal with money and property. A welfare PoA gives powers to make decisions about health or personal welfare. The combined PoA covers both type of decision.
How to set up a power of attorney
To give someone power of attorney in England and Wales, you need to register the LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian. In Scotland, you apply to the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland). In Northern Ireland, you apply to the Office of Care and Protection.
What if someone can’t make their own decisions?
If someone has lost capacity to make decisions, someone else can apply to take over their finances. If you live in England or Wales, you apply to the Court of Protection to become a deputy. In Scotland, you apply to the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) to become a guardian. In Northern Ireland, you apply to the Office of Care and Protection to become a controller. You may need legal advice to do this, and there are fees for registering and any court hearings.