Who will decide for you when you can’t?
Everybody who owns a house, or has other significant assets, should make a Will to set out how those assets are dealt with after their day. It may be an uncomfortable thing to do, but it is far better than leaving uncertainty and dissention behind you.
However, a Will only deals with what happens to your assets after your death. What is actually far more relevant to you, because it impinges on your personal wellbeing, is how those assets are dealt with in your lifetime, if you can no longer make decisions for yourself.
It is an unpalatable fact that about one third of everyone over the age of 65 will develop dementia. Many more people will suffer strokes. You might therefore find yourself in a position of being unable to manage your own affairs. It is not sufficient to do nothing and assume your family will be able to look after you. They have no right unless you give it to them to administer your assets so, if nothing is done to safeguard your position, your family have only one option to deal with your affairs. This is to apply to the Court of Protection in London to be appointed as your Deputy. This is slow, expensive, bureaucratic and restrictive, so is best avoided.
All this difficulty can be avoided by making a Lasting Power of Attorney. By this means you appoint someone or some people you trust – usually a spouse and children but it can be another relative, a friend or a professional adviser – as your attorney. This means you give them the power to act in your best interest if you cannot do so. You can appoint people you trust and if you wish you can also tell them how you want them to act.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney you can make. These relate to :-
- Your Property and Affairs – your attorney(s) can deal with your house and other property and all your savings and investments or such part of them as you can choose.
- Your Health and Welfare – this is a very welcome addition and is quite new. You can now appoint the person(s) who will make decisions (if you can’t) about your medical treatment (eg whether you want to be kept alive on life support or want nature to take its course) or about your care. This means for example that you can set the parameters in which your attorneys can act by saying that you want to stay in your own home with care brought in rather than in any residential or nursing home.
Note: If you have an existing Enduring Power of Attorney this remains valid. However it only relates to your property and finances. If you want to make provision for your health and welfare this can only be achieved by way of a Lasting Power of Attorney.
We strongly advise that if you have not already made Lasting Powers of Attorney that you do so now.