Lasting Power of Attorney
You can insure just about anything these days, our lives, health, homes, valuables, salaries, cars, holidays…the list goes on and on.
Insurance sells because it buys us peace of mind. It soothes us back to sleep when we judder awake in the small hours with a headful of horrible hypotheticals. We know we’ll be covered if the worst happens. Perhaps more importantly, we know our families won’t be left to struggle.
If you think like that, you might want to think about another form of protection, something that will look after your loved-ones should you become incapacitated.
Because that is a worry, isn’t it? We can’t pretend otherwise.
The statistics are stark - and they are rarely out of the headlines.
Research suggests that approximately 152,000 people suffer a stroke every year in the UK, that’s equivalent to one every five minutes. More than half of these patients are left dependent on others.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are 800,000 people with dementia in the UK. By 2025, there will be more than a million.
The Department for Transport’s 2013 Report has estimated that the total number of road casualties in Great Britain annually, including those not reported to the police, is 720,000.
Being physically or mentally incapacitated is bad enough, but it brings more nightmare scenarios.
What if it became necessary to sell your house so you could move somewhere more practical? What if your partner or children needed to access your bank accounts, pension funds or investments to pay for your care, your bills or deal with other day to day financial matters?
If you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself, such things can become horribly complicated and time-consuming, adding to the distress of an awful situation for your family.
People often assume that a partner or child automatically takes over responsibility for their affairs if they are no longer able to manage. That is not the case, explains Peter Burton of The Will Writing Company, a trusted partner of The Nottingham, which offers customers expert advice on all aspects of estate planning.
“Your assets can be frozen and may be managed by the Court of Protection. Getting something called a Deputyship order from the Court can take many months and often at a great expense.
“If you or a loved one has lost their capacity, the one thing you often don’t have is the luxury of time,” says estate planning professional Peter.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can put a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, although this doesn’t just have to take place when making a Will. An LPA allows you to nominate an attorney, normally the spouse/partner, children or friends, but can be a professional, to look after your affairs if you are unable, or unwilling, to do so yourself.
There are two types of LPA: a Property and Financial Affairs LPA which covers decisions affecting your bank accounts, investments, bill payments, pensions and other assets; and a Health and Welfare LPA, which applies to decisions around your medical and care needs as well as where you may live if you were to move into a care home.
By putting LPAs in place, you can be assured that your assets, medical treatment, living arrangements and day-to-day life will be taken care of by someone of your choice, acting in your best interests.
“An LPA works like an insurance policy,” says Peter. “You put it in place and hopefully, you will never need it.”