I recently heard a comedian complaining about how difficult it was to pay his utility bill. He was saying how he got taken through five minutes of security questions before they would let him pay his bill over the phone. When he challenged them as to why this was necessary he was told it was to prevent fraud. His punchline was “what kind of rubbish fraudster phones up to pay someone else’s bill? If they try it, just let them!”
It does highlight a genuine problem. With today’s data protection rules and the bureaucracy large institutions put in place, handling someone else’s affairs without the right paperwork is virtually impossible.
Modern pensions present a further problem. With most people now accessing their pensions flexibly, there are decisions to be made right up until death about how much to draw, how to invest and how to structure your death benefits.
Another group for whom being unable to manage their affairs is particularly troublesome is those who own and manage their own business. Who is going to have the power to approve your annual accounts or appoint a new director to run the business if you lose capacity?
This means virtually everyone needs a Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This document allows you to appoint someone you trust to manage your financial affairs if you become incapable of doing so. It is something you can prepare yourself or if you want to make sure it’s done correctly, an estate planning practitioner will do it for you for a modest fee. Hopefully, your attorney will never need to act, however for those who do end up needing it, it will save a lot of money and stress.