More than 850,000 people in the UK are currently living with Dementia and this figure is expected to rise in coming years. With more people than ever being affected by Dementia, it is becoming increasingly vital to consider what steps you can take to safeguard your finances, to help your loved ones and to make sure that the people you trust are involved in making decisions about your care when you are no longer in a position to make those decisions yourself.
Figures obtained by the Solicitors for the Elderly indicate that 86% of people would want their family and friends to make decisions on their behalf in the event that they became too ill to make decisions themselves; yet only a staggering 12% of people have actually made a Lasting Power of Attorney.
If you lose mental capacity, even those nearest to you will not be entitled to handle your affairs for you unless you have already addressed this and put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney. If you have not they will need to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your deputy which is a long, complex and costly procedure. Dementia can bring enough difficulty without the added complication of financial problems.
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney provides you with the peace of mind that should you ever be incapable of managing your affairs; your trusted loved ones will be able to take over swiftly and easily for you.
Types of Lasting Power of Attorney
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney. You have the choice to draw up one, or both.
Health and Welfare lasting powers of attorney only take effect once you are no longer in a position to make your own decisions and will enable your attorney to be involved in decisions regarding your future care needs and the type of medical treatment you receive – including decisions on life-sustaining treatments.
A Property and Financial Affairs lasting power of attorney can be used immediately if you wish and will allow your attorney to deal with your bank or building society accounts, pay your bills and collect any benefits or pensions which you might be entitled to – the day to day things required. It can also be used to sell your property if you are incapable of selling it yourself. In addition to being essential if you are mentally incapacitated it can also assist where there may be physical restrictions such as those which may follow a stroke.
When to Make Your Lasting Power of Attorney
The effects of Dementia can be devastating on families, but making a Lasting Power of Attorney can help make living with Dementia easier both for you and for the ones that you love.
Whilst there is no right time to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, you should consider making one sooner rather than later. Too often, it is left until the point that the person affected has already lost mental capacity and at that point it is too late to make a Lasting Power of Attorney. The Court of Protection application that will then result, as well as being a costly and time consuming process, will also mean you will lose control over who will look after your best interests.
Do I need a Solicitor to prepare my Lasting Power of Attorney?
You may prepare your Lasting Power of Attorney yourself however there are legal requirements to be met and it is important you receive the correct advice when setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney. Powers of Attorney are governed by the Office of the Public Guardian and must be registered with them before they can be used. If your Lasting Power of Attorney is not prepared correctly, it will not be registered and will be rejected, meaning it cannot be used. If there are problems, your power of attorney may then need to be referred to the Court of Protection to be considered. The Office of the Public Guardian still refer a large amount of incorrectly prepared Powers of Attorney to the Court of Protection each month to resolve errors in the documents. It is advisable therefore, to instruct a solicitor to prepare the documents for peace of mind that they are drawn up correctly and will be valid for use when needed the most.
If you have been diagnosed with, or fear that you might develop Dementia or any illness which might prevent you from making decisions for yourself at some time in the future you should put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place now. Tracey Tromans and the specialist Private Client team at Rees Page Solicitors can help to guide you through the process of putting your own Lasting Power of Attorney in place and to explain the options open to you. We are also happy to visit you at your home if you prefer.
If you want the peace of mind of knowing that someone you trust will be in charge of your affairs when you no longer can be call Tracey now on 01902 577777 or email TTromans@reespage.co.uk