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Curatorships & powers of attorney

Mental incapacity

Sadly most of us have either known someone affected by mental incapacity or will be touched by this issue in the future either in terms of an elderly relative or a friend, or indeed personally.

We have extensive experience in managing curatorships. We believe that we have the largest curatorship department in the Island and our team are experts in managing curatorship affairs from the very simple to the very complex. In addition, we have panels of professionals to assist us when required, for example when we need to invest funds.

Advocate Zoe Blomfield is often asked by the Law Officers’ Department to act as curator for people who have no appropriate family members to do so. She has also given expert evidence in this area of law. We also have a team of advisers who assist a number of lay curators, in particular in relation to their duties and responsibilities under the law and with the preparation of court applications. We also provide advice on matters relating to curatorships, for court proceedings. We also act as attorney for a number of clients. We advise in relation to powers of attorney and the registration of foreign powers of attorney and guardianship orders in the Royal Court.

Setting up a curatorship in Jersey

If you at some point in your life lose your mental capacity, you may need a curator to manage your financial affairs. Whilst we all have the right to look after our own affairs, incapacitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, senile dementia or a stroke may decease our ability to carry out day-to-day tasks which were previously second nature. Writing cheques, dealing with the mail or maintaining the home may become insurmountable tasks.

There may be a family member or friend who deals with a person’s finances either informally on the basis of a third party mandate on their bank account or more formally by way of power of attorney. It is important to understand however the loss of mental capacity automatically revokes a power of attorney. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent in Jersey to the English concept of a Lasting Power of Attorney, which is a power of attorney the continues to be effective despite mental incapacity. Furthermore, there may come a point where financial decisions have to be made which fall outside the remit of a third party mandate.

In such situations it is essential that a formal arrangement be put in place so that someone bears the legal responsibility for making final decision. If this describes a situation you are familiar with then you should consider obtaining legal advice. It may be necessary for a curator to be appointed. A curator is a person appointed by the Royal Court to manage and administer the property and finances of a person who is incapable of managing their own affairs. The procedure involves a Mental Incapacity Report being completed by a doctor or psychiatrist and sent to the Solicitor General’s Office. The Solicitor General investigates the matter and will consider the proposed curator’s suitability to the appointment. This may be a member of the person’s family, a friend or indeed a professional curator.

A professional curator provides an impartial solution where there are family disputes, the possibility of disputes in the future or where there is no family in the Island. A professional is also appropriate where there are legal or financial matters requiring specialist knowledge. The curator must file an inventory or the person’s assets to the court within 90 days of the appointment and must then file accounts annually showing the income and expenditure over the past year. In addition, the permission of the court is required for capital expenditure over a certain amount.

How Viberts can help

We are all very conscious these days of the fact that our genuine attempts to help others may be perceived as interfering or taking unfair advantage. Furthermore, even with the best intentions, dealing with another person’s finances as well as your own can prove time consuming, daunting and stressful. Whilst it is possible for a curator to resign, lay curators often find this a difficult decision due to the feeling of moral obligation. Taking legal advice on these issues gives you the freedom of choice to make an informed decision as to whether you wish to act a curator.

If you require assistance with any of these matters, please contact our friendly personal team to find out how we can help on +44 (0) 1534 632263
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