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This article was published on July 30th, 2018
Ensuring you have a power of attorney in place is possibly one of the most important documents you can possess when planning your estate. For example, a financial power of attorney, which has been drafted by a specialist LPA solicitor, will safeguard your interests by allowing someone of your choosing, who you trust, to manage your financial affairs should you lose capacity.
However, a recent article on the STEP website highlighted a study by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), which discussed the fact that the number of people who are losing capacity in the UK, particularly those who suffer from dementia, is much higher than the number of people who have a lasting power of attorney in place.
According to the report compiled by the SFE, there are currently 540,000 people in the UK who have been diagnosed with dementia, with that number rising to an estimated 850,000 when those who have yet to be diagnosed are taken into account.
Should a lasting power of attorney not be in place for those suffering from dementia, it can make it very difficult to gain access to assets that can help the owner of the assets fund financial and medical requirements such as care fees and medical treatment.
It is the medical requirements that the SFE feature prominently in their report, suggesting that the UK faces an ‘incapacity crisis’.
This ‘crisis’ is mainly due to the fact that of an estimated 12 million people who they describe as ‘at a significant risk’ of suffering dementia at some point in their life, only 928,000 Health and Welfare lasting powers of attorney have been registered, with the issue set to become more prominent by 2025.
According to SFE, the key reason for so few lasting powers of attorney having been set up is the fact that many people are totally unaware of the risks of losing capacity without having an LPA in place.
By ensuring you have a health and welfare LPA in place, you eliminate doubt surrounding your wishes should you lose capacity. If you have assets which are owned solely by you, for example, an ISA account, then you should seriously consider an LPA for property and financial affairs. This will help you guard against any occasion where you need to access assets should you lose your mental capacity. Without an LPA, people acting in your best interests would be powerless to access your assets as they would be frozen after you had lost mental capacity.
While many of us think we are too young for an LPA to be applicable, memory problems including dementia can affect people at various points in their lives, making it vital you are prepared for whatever may lie around the corner.
Our Wills, Trust and Probate solicitors specialise in advising on and providing lasting powers of attorney. We provide you with a sensitive and sympathetic service and will guide you through the process from start to finish. Our team is led by a member of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) who can act as a professional Attorney if required.