LEGAL EAGLE: Making plans for the future

A geriatrician holds the hand of an elderly woman with arthritis.
A geriatrician holds the hand of an elderly woman with arthritis.

Autumn is traditionally the time to repair your house to make it weather proof for winter.

As the nights draw in it is also the time to take stock of your legal affairs. Stories about dementia issues seem to have been in the news a great deal recently.  

There are now an estimated 800,000 people with dementia in the UK at present and this may be 1,000,000 by 2027. One-in-three people in the UK will sadly have dementia by the time they die.

Alzheimer’s disease remains the most common dementia illness and a cure is many years away.

While we all hope to avoid suffering from dementia there are practical steps we should all be thinking about now to plan for the future in case of problems in later life.  

In particular it is prudent to write a Lasting Power of Attorney or LPA. It’s the old story of fixing the roof while the sun is shining. Without an LPA who would handle things if you were unwell due to dementia, stroke or other incapacity?

An LPA is a legal document or form you can write now appointing one or more people to act as attorneys to handle your affairs in case you become unwell later.  

You can have one or more attorneys acting together or separately. You can appoint replacements in case the first attorneys cannot act. For example, you can appoint your wife as first attorney with your son as replacement attorney.

There are two types of LPA. An LPA for property and affairs would cover, for example, paying bills, collecting pensions and generally looking after your affairs. An LPA for health and welfare can cover personal matter such as where you live, care plans, and even medical treatment including end of life issues.

These are sensitive personal issues and it is important that your attorneys should know your wishes.

Before it can be used the LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

This can take months rather than weeks. My tip is to register straight away after the LPA has been signed. This can avoid delays later. Once registered the LPA can be kept in a safe place until needed.

The important thing is that writing an LPA gives you the chance now to make plans and arrangements for the future in case the worse happens.

It is a sort of insurance to ensure people you trust are handling your most important personal affairs. Without an LPA matters could be left to chance.

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