What value do you put on peace of mind? If you become either mentally or physically incapable of handling your affairs, are you confident that your finances and personal wishes will be dealt with appropriately?

The Alzheimer’s Society statistics show there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This will soar to 2 million by 2051. Approximately 225,000 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes and 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia. Additionally, 70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems. Finally, there are over 40,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence estimates about two million people in England and Wales are thought to lack capacity to make decisions for themselves. A lack of mental capacity could be due to:- a stroke or brain injury, a mental health problem, dementia, a learning disability, confusion, drowsiness or unconsciousness because of an illness or the treatment for it, or substance misuse.

The following scenario is a case on point:-

Eve was in her late sixties, a widow with comfortable savings and no mortgage on her house. She had a loving family and good friends. She had made her Will so that her estate would be handled efficiently and her wishes would be carried out. Eve felt that everything was taken care of. Unfortunately, she had a stroke which affected her physically as well as mentally. She had not made Lasting Powers of Attorney for property and financial affairs or for health and welfare. There was no one appointed by her whom she could trust to handle her affairs. The bank and utility companies would not deal with her family as she had not made a provision for that. She needed to go into care and her family struggled with the bureaucratic powers in order to try and straighten out her finances and implement a care plan. Social Services got involved and without a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, the family had to allow Social Services to take the actions Social Services thought necessary and not what Eve’s family was sure Eve would have wanted.

Making Lasting Powers of Attorney ensure both your financial affairs and your personal welfare are dealt with by someone of your choosing that you can trust to place your best interests first. Should you not have them in place when something goes wrong, the only avenue for your family to take is to apply to the Court of Protection to become your deputy. This is a costly and time-consuming exercise.

When to make a Lasting Power of Attorney is personal to each one of us. A Lasting Power of Attorney is valid as long as the donor is 18 years old and has the mental capacity to understand the power and authority given to the attorney(s). The problem is that no one knows when they may be involved in an accident, have a stroke or other immediately debilitating disease. Therefore, it is hard to say when one should make a Lasting Power of Attorney but it is definitely something to think about when one has the responsibility of a family, business, major investments, or when getting elderly or infirm.

If you would like to speak to someone about any of the issues raised in this article please contact Tricia Carter.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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