Mental capacity
Posted on Tue 25th March 2014 1.36PM Notarial

The recent economic upheaval in Europe has affected the market for English people wanting to retire abroad. In Spain in particular, properties bought as retirement homes have been blighted not just by the fall in their value but also by local councils suddenly enforcing planning rules which were sometimes breached when properties were built.

The market will bounce back, of course. One increasingly difficult issue for the older person buying abroad is the possibility of loss of their mental faculties with age. In England, this can be safeguarded by the person executing a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a special power which is not revoked by incapacity. It has to be registered with the Office of Public Guardian to be valid, but it then enables the attorney to administer the person's affairs.

These sorts of Powers are not always recognised abroad and in some countries the only way to administer a person's affairs is by court order. Anyone moving abroad should consider executing a Lasting Power of Attorney before they move. It will at least give their relatives the chance to administer their affairs. Whether another country will recognise such a power depends on the country, but the fact that it was signed in England when the person was living there will help, as countries will often give effect to a document valid in England even if it would not be valid if executed in the country concerned.

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