A stitch in time.

No one knows what the future holds, but one thing is certain, as a nation we are all living longer. The Office of National Statistics found:

  • For the period from 2014 to 2016, a 65-year-old man in the UK will on average live a further 18.5 years and a woman on average 20.9 years longer. 
  • A male born between 2014 to 2016 had a 21% chance and a female a 32% chance of living until at least 90 years old.

So, it’s clear:

  • Life expectancy is increasing.
  • People are living longer.

In recent years, mental health has become the focus of many news headlines. 

Dementia concerns

One of the biggest concerns amongst individuals is dementia, which although can occur in young people, tends to affect the elderly. Dementia is a syndrome used to describe the deterioration of brain functioning which ultimately affects a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks and to also think, feel, behave and speak. Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia account for most dementia cases. 

The Alzheimer’s Society found:

  • 850,000 people in the UK suffer from dementia.
  • This is set to increase to one million by 2025.
  • This does not include many other debilitating illnesses and diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or brain injuries.

It is now more important than ever to put your affairs in order whilst you have the capacity to do so. 

If you think it is important to have a Will to specify how you would like your estate to be divided on your death, of equal importance (and maybe more as you are still alive) is putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney. 

More than two million Lasting Power of Attorney registrations were filed with the Office of the Public Guardian by the end of 2016, with the number of appointments more than trebling between 2010 and 2015. Some people do have the previous ‘old’ style Enduring Powers of Attorney, which are still effective if correctly prepared, but there are still a large number of individuals who do not have Lasting Powers of Attorney.

So, what are Lasting Powers of Attorney?

Lasting Powers of Attorney enable you to choose the people you trust (‘your Attorneys’) to make decisions and to take action on your behalf during your lifetime in connection with your:

  • financial affairs if you are unable or unwilling to make these decisions; or 
  • personal health and welfare when you are no longer able to make decisions yourself. 

What if I do not have Lasting Powers of Attorney?

If you do not make Lasting Powers of Attorney and you then lose mental capacity to make decisions regarding your finances or personal welfare, no-one will automatically be able to make decisions for you, not even your close family such as your spouse or children.

Family or friends will need to apply to the Court of Protection for a court order appointing themselves your Deputy and allowing them to act and make decisions for you. If no one is willing to be your Deputy, the local authority may be appointed or the Court may appoint a professional Deputy. 

However, this procedure is not for the faint hearted. The process is not only costly and time-consuming with ongoing administration and cost burdens, but the powers given to a Deputy are usually more restricted than that of an Attorney. 

In addition, for Health and Welfare Deputyships, due to the type of decisions involved, the Court of Protection is reluctant to grant these and only does so in very rare cases.

The moral

Take control and organise your affairs so that those close to you can step in and make the decisions for you when you cannot with minimal stress and cost. In short, make a Lasting Power of Attorney so:

  • you choose your Attorneys
  • decide who you trust
  • consider any guidance and/or instructions for your Attorneys (such as how you would like your finances managed, where you want to live, what treatment you do and do not want, life sustaining treatment etc). 

By doing so, this will ensure you have the peace of mind that if you do suffer from any diseases, illnesses or medical conditions in the future which restrict you from making those everyday decisions, then you will have your affairs in order for your loved ones to step in and take care of matters when needed. If you would like further information about Lasting Powers of Attorney, please contact either Julie Man on 01932 590643 or Kerry Sawyer on 01932 590664, both in our award-winning Private Wealth team recently recognised as ‘Private Client Law Firm of the Year in England’ in the 8th Annual Global Law Experts Awards.

Insights.

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