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Lasting Power of Attorney / Appointeeship

In situations where a person is unable to manage their own financial affairs, another person can apply to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to become 'an appointee' and if agreed, this will enable the appointee to manage the person's benefits on their behalf.

Where an individual has the mental capacity to deal with their property and financial affairs, they can set up powers of attorney to enable other people to make decisions regarding their finances or health and welfare on their behalf, in the future, should the situation change. More information on Power of Attorney is available from AgeUK or The Law Society.

For a person to have an appointee they must be 'unable to act'. Unable to act is not defined in regulations but could mean that the person is unable to manage their own affairs relating to benefits because of physical or mental capacity. Incapacity  does not have to be permanent, providing that the person is unable to manage for the period they have an appointee. Incapacity does not cover a claimant who is unwilling to claim a benefit or who is ignorant of their right to do so. An appointee is able to claim and spend the individual's benefit on their behalf.  A form BF56 needs to be completed.  

Appointees must be suitable to do the duties required of them. A suitable appointee is one that is acceptable to the claimant, capable of managing the claimant's affairs in the interests of the claimant, is sufficiently close to the claimant to have a knowledge of their circumstances and fully aware of their responsibilities as appointee. Usually close members of the claimant's family would be the most suitable people to act as appointee but equally a close family friend could be an appointee. There should be no potential for a conflict of interest - for example, it might not be appropriate for a claimant's landlord to be appointee (apart from in exceptional circumstances if no other appointee is available).  

Outside of these relationships the local authority, solicitor or manager of a home can be an appointee.  However it must be considered whether managers and staff of care homes may have a conflict of interest and should only be appointed as a last resort. Residential and nursing home providers should be aware of the CQC directives on interventions in such cases. 

Individuals are not paid for taking on this role. An appointee must only spend any benefits received on the individual's own costs and the benefits must be applied in the individuals best interests.  Appointees should keep records and receipts of all money spent.  

The extent of the appointee's power is to deal with the individual's benefits or pension.  They do not have authority to make other decisions.  Appointees should not control the individual's behaviour, contact with others or choice.

According to DWP guidance there are three circumstances where an appointment can be revoked:

  1. If the appointee does not act appropriately within the terms under which the appointment was granted, an officer acting on behalf of the Secretary of State can revoke their authority.
  2. If there is sufficient evidence that the customer is capable of acting for themselves and does not need an appointee to act for them over their benefit affairs.
  3. Where the appointee becomes incapable and the Secretary of State is satisfied that this is the case, they should take normal action to appoint a replacement.

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