Dom Littlewood met One Show viewer Heather who had to battle to control
the family finances after an accident left her husband in a coma for three
Despite having both written wills, they had never made power of attorney
in case they became mentally incapacitated - meaning The Court of
Protection took control of her husband's assets and she had to apply to
access his bank accounts.
Why do you need power of attorney?
Everyone knows you should write a will to make sure your loved ones are
provided for when you die, but what happens if you are left mentally unable
to make decisions because of accident or illness?
With an ageing population it happens more than most people think - and if
you haven't got power of attorney specifying who can look after your affairs
you'll have to go through the Court of Protection. The court was set up to
protect the assets of vulnerable people.
Recent changes in the law
In 2007, as a result of the 2005 Mental Capacity Act, the new Court of Protection
replaced the former office of the Supreme Court with the same name and was
given an extended jurisdiction.
According to The Ministry of Justice, these changes have resulted in a more
personalised approach, giving most people who deal with the court greater flexibility
over how money is spent, whilst still safeguarding vulnerable people.
However the court is still seeing high levels of complaints and in December the
President of the Court of Protection Sir Mark Potter announced he was setting up an
ad hoc committee to review the Court's rules once again.