According to a recent report by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), a national organisation representing legal professionals specialising in helping people plan for later life, 88% of people in the North West are currently living with no control over important later-life decisions surrounding their housing, assets, health and care.
The report also reveals that whilst 31% of people in the North West have a Will in place to manage their affairs after death, only 6% have made a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to safeguard their wishes in the event they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves, due to accident or illnesses such as dementia.
The fact that so few people in the North West have an LPA in place doesn’t surprise me, but it is worrying that such a high percentage of people don’t realise the importance of safeguarding their wishes should they find themselves unable to make their own decisions in the future. None of us are infallible and any one of us could be struck down by physical or mental incapacity at any time. Statistics from Alzheimer’s Research indicate that in the UK over 40,000 people under 65 have dementia.
In my capacity as Chair of SFE and a Partner here at SAS Daniels, specialising in elderly, care and mental capacity, I was recently interviewed about this subject by BBC Radio 4’s Consumer Affairs Programme, ‘You and Yours’, and also by local radio station Silk 106.9.
So why make an LPA?
LPAs are a good way to appoint someone to make decisions and manage your affairs on your behalf should you lose the capacity to do so and can be made by anyone over the age of 18. An LPA can also be used to delegate medical decisions.
Choosing who to appoint as your attorney is probably the most significant part in the process of making an LPA. Your attorney will be the person making decisions about your property and financial affairs and/or health and welfare should you become incapacitated. You should therefore choose someone you trust and who knows you well enough to make decisions in your best interests. Once you have made an LPA it has to be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian before your appointed attorney can start making decisions on your behalf.
If you don’t have an LPA in place it can be costly to have someone appointed for you to deal with your finances and this can be a lengthy process as it involves an application for a deputyship at the court. It is therefore important to act early.
For further information on making an LPA or if you would like advice on any other elderly, care or mental capacity matter, please contact Justine Clowes in our Private Client team on 01625 442148.
If you are interested in listening to the interviews, please click on the links below!
Click here to listen to the BBC Radio 4 recording. (hear Justine from minutes 5 to 9 on the podcast)