The Incapacity Crisis

Preparing for later life with a Lasting Power of Attorney

The Incapacity Crisis, Preparing for later life with a Lasting Power of Attorney

A recent report on The Incapacity Crisis from Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) has revealed that as a nation we are totally unprepared for the huge increase in incapacity forecasted for the near future. It is currently thought that nearly 850,000 people in the UK have diagnosed or undiagnosed dementia and, according to the Alzheimer’s Society,  by 2050 this is likely to increase to 2.7 million people.

There is no known cure for this progressive disease which diminishes brain function and cognitive ability, and research is massively underfunded. Unfortunately, despite the increasing probability of developing dementia too few people have made provision to safeguard their future care and financial assets in the event of incapacity.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows an individual to appoint a person they know and trust to make decisions on their behalf in the case of loss of mental capacity. There are two types of LPA: a Property and Financial Affairs LPA; and a Health and Welfare LPA.

A Property & Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA PA) allows you to nominate someone to make decisions on your behalf about your money and property. Without this document, your financial affairs cannot automatically be managed and you and your relatives can lose complete control of your finances.

A Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA HW) is equally important in allowing you to nominate someone to look after your physical wellbeing. According to the SFE report 65% of people incorrectly believe that if they are no longer able to make medical and care decisions for themselves then their next-of-kin will be able to. Without an LPA HW, the most personal decisions will be made on your behalf by medical and social care professionals who may never have met you. Doctors have the authority to make final medical and care decisions and Social Services will be able to choose your care home which may not be in your preferred location and some distance from your friends and family. If your next-of-kin object to the decisions then the dispute would be referred to the Court of Protection.

To ensure that you or the people that you trust retain some control over your medical treatment, end-of-life wishes, and care and living arrangements then you need to make a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. In this document you appoint who you want to ensure your wishes are adhered to if you lose capacity.

It is crucial to plan ahead. Around 225,000 people will develop dementia this year – shockingly that works out to be one person every three minutes. Unfortunately once a person has lost mental capacity, they are no longer able to make an LPA. Making an LPA now will ensure that only those you trust and care about will have the power to make decisions for you.

A Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is an incredibly powerful document and requires care and experience when being drafted. At Hunt & Coombs Solicitors we have a great deal of experience in creating both types of Lasting Power of Attorney and have several accredited SFE lawyers ready to help you.

For further information concerning an LPA or any other question concerning Wills, Trusts & Probate please contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team on 01480 702207 or email info@hcsolicitors.co.uk.

Author

Fiona Prince, Solicitor

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.