Last year saw an increase in the number of people signing a mandate for the administration of their property should they ever become unable to do so for themselves.
The so-called extra-judicial mandate or protection is a document which determines how a person’s belongings and personal circumstances should be administered and by whom, in the eventuality that they become unable to do it for themselves because of illness, accident, disability or simply old age.
Last year there were 54,956 such mandates signed in Belgium, an increase of 48.2% over 2018, described as “spectacular” by Fednot, the federation of notaries, the profession which deals with the mandates.
The matters covered by the mandate differ according to the wishes of the signatory, including the management of the person’s full portfolio of property including real estate, bank accounts, insurance policies and payment of bills – or any portion of the person’s belongings. The mandate is not restricted by age; the possibility is also open to young people to cover the same range of eventualities.
The increase in 2019 by almost half is due to a change in the law on mandates that came into force in March last year, which increased the areas which the mandate is able to cover. Those now include management of the person themselves, in matters such as arranging a rest home either chosen in advance or left to the representative’s discretion, as well as having a power of attorney over the care the person receives if any.
“I amended the law last year, because the people need to be able to take their future into their own hands,” Koen Geens, justice minister, posted on Twitter. “I am delighted to see that 50% more citizens have taken the opportunity of a mandate.”
Obtaining a mandate is simple: the terms can be drawn up by the applicant or any representative, and the document must then be signed by a notary, or deposited at the registry of the justice of the peace of the local area, and then filed with the central registry of mandates managed by Fednot.
According to Geens’ office, 153,163 mandates have been registered since the principle was first adopted into Belgian law in September 2014 – more than one in three of those in 2019 alone.