17 August 2018
Incapacity crisis looming as dementia sufferers increases?
A recent report by Solicitors for the Elderly has warned that there is a future “incapacity crisis” as the number of people suffering from dementia increases. Solicitor, Claire Bloomfield explains how a Lasting Power of Attorney is essential solution in tackling this issue.
While you may have considered making a will, it is also important to think about what will happen if you became unable to manage your own affairs.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document which allows you to appoint “attorneys” to act on your behalf in the event that you cannot make decisions for yourself. There are two different types of LPA, one to deal with your property and financial affairs such as dealing with your bank accounts and one to deal with health and welfare decisions, including the ability to make "life sustaining treatment decisions" on your behalf. You can appoint a number of attorneys, and can leave them instructions and preferences in the LPA itself.
Before 1 October 2007, it was possible to create an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). While it is no longer possible to make EPAs, those already created remain valid. However, EPAs only deal with your finances and do not allow attorneys to make decisions about your health and welfare.
If you do not have an EPA or an LPA for property and finances in place and become unable to manage your financial affairs, your assets may be frozen. An application would then have to be made to the Court of Protection for a deputyship, which is a long and expensive process and may not result in the person you would have wanted being appointed to look after your affairs.
The report from Solicitors for the Elderly warns that while there are 12.8 million people over 65 who run the risk of developing dementia, there are only 928,000 LPAs for health and welfare registered. Many people do not appreciate that your family does not have an automatic right to make health and welfare decisions for you. In fact, this responsibility may fall to a doctor, who may not make the choices you would have wanted.
Claire comments; "LPAs are like an insurance policy – we hope we will never need them, but they are there just in case."
B P Collins has a team of wills, trusts and probate lawyers who can assist you with putting in place LPAs. If you need assistance, please call 01753 279030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.