Being married doesn’t give your spouse the right to manage your affairs…
It is a common misconception that being married or in a civil partnership gives you the legal right to manage your spouse’s affairs should they lose mental capacity. In fact, spouses do not have the legal right to do this, including not being able to manage joint bank accounts and making key health care decisions.
Many people incorrectly believe that having a joint bank account with their spouse means they do not require Power of Attorney. However, banks will often freeze accounts when they are notified that a joint holder has lost capacity, unless they are presented with a registered Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney or Deputyship Order. This can quickly become frustrating, especially if mortgages and bills become overdue.
The term “next of kin” is also commonly misunderstood, as whilst medical professionals will consult next of kin, they have no legal rights or duties and cannot sign or give authority to life sustaining treatment, care plans or any other health decisions. Only attorneys or deputies appointed under a Power of Attorney or Deputyship Order can do this.
If you would like to know more about putting in place Lasting Powers of Attorney, have an existing Enduring Power of Attorney which needs to be registered, or a loved one has lost capacity without having an Enduring/Lasting Power of Attorney in place and you need to be advised on Deputyship Orders, please do not hesitate to contact our Private Client Department on 01245 228127.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.