What should I do with my father's finances?
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My father set up a lasting power of attorney some years ago so I can look after his financial affairs as he gets older. He is very frail now and spends most of his time sleeping. We’ve agreed that I should take over now. He has a number of savings accounts and an ISA investment portfolio. What do I need to do with them?
Richard Barker of Smith & Pinching responds:
To start using the lasting power of attorney (LPA), you must ensure that it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. You can’t start using it until you have done so. It may take some weeks to get it registered, if you haven’t yet done so.
Once you have the LPA in place, you can start to act for your father. It’s important that you act only in his best interests and that you follow his wishes, as far as you are able. While your father still has capacity, it is a good idea to discuss his financial preferences with him to ensure you are acting as he wishes.
In terms of his savings and investments, that will normally mean continuing to invest his money in the way that he wished, even if you would behave differently with your own money. You can also continue to make gifts to individuals for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas, or gifts to charities if he would normally do this himself. Any more significant gifts or any action you take that is not his normal pattern of behaviour needs to be approved by the Court of Protection, once your father no longer has capacity.
Your actions as your father’s attorney can potentially be challenged, so it’s important to keep good records and to keep your own finances completely separate from his.
The financial institutions you deal with will want to see proof of your appointment as his attorney, so you may need to show them the original LPA or provide certified copies. You may also be able to point them to an online summary of the LPA, if you have set up an online account on the gov.uk website. This facility is available for LPAs written after January 1, 2016. Any LPAs before then can be accessed in this way with an activation key.
Any opinions expressed in this article do not constitute advice. The value of an investment and the income from it could go down as well as up. The return at the end of the investment period is not guaranteed and you may get back less than you originally invested.
For more information, please visit www.smith-pinching.co.uk