Managing the affairs of someone else – A professional appointment – financial affairs
Following on from my last blogs about managing the affairs of another person, what should the person do if they have no-one to do that or if they don’t get on with their family? They can appoint a professional like me and I act for a number of individuals in some cases for both the finance and health and welfare. I can also be appointed by the Court to be deputy (which is similar to the authority of an attorney), but these appointments are usually for financial affairs only.
My appointment is no different from the appointment of the family member, with the one exception that I charge a professional fee for the work that I do. How much the fee is, depends on the complexity of the matter and in particular where they live, as if they live in care and they require the payment of their care fees and an annual welfare visit, the cost is far less than someone who lives in the community and due to issues arising I have to visit every few months.
I have a duty to maximise the estate for the benefit of that person, which means that I have an obligation to ensure that the funds are appropriately invested to ensure that there is an income. I need to give consideration to the income and how the money is being spent, as someone who has only a couple of hours care a week or even a day, will spend less money than someone who has a full time live in carer. How the estate should be managed has to have all the relevant information taken into account so that a bespoke strategy is achieved. I even have to consider how much money is kept in one bank, as if the bank goes bust only the first £85,000 is insured and the rest could be lost. I have to consider moving the excess to protect the client, if the worst happens.
I might be asked to make gifts and I have to consider whether that is reasonable. I might have to take control of high value assets, so jewellery might need to go into a safety deposit. If they have a safety deposit box, then I will need to know what is in it.
It is also useful to know what is in the Will, so that I don’t sell anything that is specifically gifted in their Will, such as jewellery or property. If the donor leaves their house to someone and I’ve sold it, the disappointed beneficiary will not be happy with me and this is a circumstance that a statutory Will might be appropriated, so that the Court of Protection will grant a new Will giving a share of the estate that equates to the value of the property to that beneficiary. So if there is a house worth £200,000 and cash worth £100,000, when the property is sold, whoever receives the cash will get £300,000 if there is only cash, but the Statutory Will would give 2/3 to the person who would have had the property and 1/3 to the person who would have had the cash.
My overall aim is to ensure that the wishes of the person are carried out as far as is possible to achieve, so if the client doesn’t want to go into care and it is possible to arrange their care in such a way to achieve that, then I do so. If their primary concern is to be safe and cared for, then admission into care in some circumstances might be the right decision for them. How I deal with their money depends on what their financial needs are, what their income is and what their capital is.
The firm that I work for has to insure the client’s money as part of their liability insurance, so within the firm there are safeguards to ensure that the clients’ money is safe from fraud or theft, including from me! It is for this reason that I would not act with a co-attorney for financial matters, as I remain also responsible for the running of their affairs, including the fraud by co-attorney.
Having authority over another’s affairs is a big responsibility, which I take very seriously to ensure that the person is cared for as best as is possible to achieve and in the way that they want.