Cliff Veitch explains why forward planning is essential to give you peace of mind.
It’s World Mental Health Day on Friday 10th October. Stories about dementia issues have been in the news a great deal this year, not least with Terry Pratchett’s very helpful public campaigning for better understanding and compassion for dementia sufferers. There are now an estimated 800,000 people with dementia in the UK and this may well rise to one million 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 be one of the two in three and avoid dementia there are practical steps we should all be thinking about now to plan for the future in case of mental health problems in later life.
In particular it is advisable to write a Lasting Power of Attorney or LPA.
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 choose 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, very 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 advice 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.
Writing an LPA gives you the chance now to make plans and arrangements for the future in a relaxed and stress-free way in case the worst happens later. It is a kind of insurance to ensure people you trust are handling your most important personal affairs. Without an LPA your future, when you are very vulnerable, could be left to chance because who would handle things for you if you were unwell due to dementia, stroke or other incapacity?
But if you are in middle age or younger and feeling fine what’s the rush? Well, it’s the old story of fixing the roof while the sun is shining since, by the time you could need an LPA, it is likely to be too late to put one in place.
You can begin writing an LPA by contacting me at David Gray Solicitors LLP. I have many years’ experience in this area of law and can guide you through the choices involved in writing a document that is right for you and your loved ones. I can also work to a fixed fee budget with no surprise charges.