Preparing for the Inevitable?
It is estimated there are currently around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. This number is predicted to increase to more than one million by 2025 and two million by 2050.
It’s certainly not inevitable that you will develop dementia but, with 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 diagnosed with the disease, it is something you may wish to consider preparing for.
Most of us would wish to have a say on who can make decisions about where we live and what care we receive – and who looks after our finances and property. The simplest and most cost effective way of ensuring the right people are looking out for you is to make Lasting Powers of Attorney.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney – one which deals with property and finances and one which deals with health and welfare decisions.
A property and finances Lasting Power of Attorney gives your attorneys the authority to manage your bank accounts and any investments, and to buy or sell property on your behalf. It can be used as soon as it is registered, if you wish.
This doesn’t take any power away from you and you can continue to run your affairs so long as you wish. However, it might be useful if you were indisposed for a period of time and unable to deal with your financial affairs, for example, if you required an extended stay in hospital.
A health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney allows your attorneys to make decisions about where you live and what care you receive. You can also give your attorneys the authority to give or refuse consent to life-sustaining treatment. This type of Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used once it is registered and then only if you lose the capacity to make these decisions for yourself.
You should consider who you would wish to appoint as your attorney – this could be a trusted friend or relative, or a professional.
If you are appointing more than one person you will need to decide how they should make decisions – jointly or separately? Do you wish to appoint replacement attorneys?
The choice of attorney is a key decision, as the Lasting Powers of Attorney are powerful documents giving a huge amount of power to the attorneys. Sadly, there are cases where an attorney has abused their authority and the Office of the Public Guardian will investigate cases brought to its attention. In August 2016, Age UK reported figures that showed at least 130,000 older people had suffered some form of financial abuse from someone known to them, with women twice as likely as men to become victims of financial abuse in later life. A qualified adviser can take you through all the options and give you the best advice for your individual situation.
We all hope to live out our lives being fully in control of the decisions which affect us. Making Lasting Powers of Attorney ensures if there is ever a time when we are unable to do this it will be the people we trust who are looking after our welfare and financial affairs.
April Newton is a Solicitor at Glanvilles Damant Legal Services specialising in Wills, Powers of Attorney, Trusts and elderly client matters.
Please contact her on [email protected]
co.uk or 01983 527878 for a free initial consultation.