Nothing is more certain than death and yet we are uneasy when it comes to discussing arrangements such as the funeral, who will administer our estate and who benefits from our possessions that we have built up over a lifetime. The same applies with respect to illness and incapacity we may suffer from at some stage in our lives.
We are living longer and as a result are more likely to experience long term illnesses, physical or mental. Mental illness or incapacity can potentially alter our lives, isolating us and making it more difficult for us to function independently. The statistics are grim and facts and figures from the Mental Health Foundation reveal that 1 in 4 adults will suffer from mental illness every year. This may prevent them from doing everyday things such as getting up, getting dressed, paying their bills and making day-to-day decisions. Unfortunately, such life changing events can happen irrespective of age and unexpectedly, such as following an accident or a fall. Planning ahead provides you with the reassurance that should you become unable to make your own decisions your wishes are taken into account in the management of your affairs.
Making Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) allows you to appoint others (your attorneys) to look after your affairs when you are not able to because of ill health. You would appoint people you know you can trust to act in your best interest and according to your wishes. There are two types of LPA Property and Financial Affairs LPA and the Health and Welfare LPA. The Property and Financial Affairs LPA allows your attorneys to make decisions about your possessions and financial interests. They will deal with your bank accounts, buy and sell property on your behalf and pay your taxes and bills.
The Health and Welfare LPA, on the other hand, allows your attorneys to make decisions about your social and health care needs when you no longer have mental capacity to do so. Your attorneys will be able to make decisions on, what clothes you wear, where you will go, who you will socialise with, where you will live and even your diet. Most significantly, this LPA enables your attorney to make decisions about your medical care, especially whether they should accept or refuse any life-sustaining treatment on your behalf. It therefore goes without saying that this is the one document that makes your wishes known in advance and that may eventually play a central part in the care you receive.
When planning for your future, it makes sense to create LPAs while you are still of sound mind. Yet, some 70% of people do not make any advance planning when they are able to. Not having any LPAs in place means that if you are no longer able to look after your own affairs, an application will need to be made to the courts for somebody to be appointed to manage these for you. The application and on-going management are expensive, complex and time consuming.
Deciding on whom to appoint as your attorneys and the level of responsibility this role places on those you appoint can be daunting. This is where you need to take legal advice. If you want to discuss making Lasting Powers of Attorney and want expert advice, please contact me Sangeeta Moore on 020 3432 1084 or 07825 838 922. Alternatively please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org