How to decide on family's future care

There may come a day when your loved ones are unable to make a decision on their future care.

If that happens, their local authority may try to decide for them.

There are steps you can take to ensure that decision rests with you, the family – so you can be sure their later years are spent where they would have wanted to be.

It is called Power of Attorney, which means you are nominated to make decisions on behalf of a loved one.

Clive Barwell, a Wren Sterling financial adviser and expert on later years finances, said: “If you have to go into care because of arthritis or you’ve had a stroke, but your mental capacity is absolutely fine, then you can make the decision about your own care.  

“But if you’ve lost capacity due to dementia or a brain injury, without power of attorney the family are in a weak position to decide what care dad or mum should have. The local authority has a statutory duty to provide care for people in their locality. 

“The local authority could make decisions without needing to consult or take the family’s wishes into account – which will obviously have an emotional effect on the family at this difficult time. 

“They will consult, but if it comes to a disagreement for which is the most important form of care, in the absence of this POA, then they will consider that their opinion is more important.”

What you need to do:
  • Choose the Power of Attorney you would like to set up;
  • Pick your attorney(s) – the trustworthy person/people appointed to make decisions on your behalf;
  • Separate forms are also completed by a ‘certificate provider’ (often your doctor) who confirms your mental capacity, and by each of your chosen attorneys; 
  • You, your attorneys and your witnesses all sign;
  • The forms are returned to the Office of the Public Guardian with payment. They send back a stamped copy of the Power of Attorney to prove it has been accepted and registered. Without this stamp it is not valid;
  • You can lodge the stamped copy with a solicitor if you wish, to keep it safe.
Retired Mike Williams from Mapperley, Nottingham, has set up a Power of Attorney for him and his wife which would be jointly operated by their sons.

He said: “When you are dealing with big decisions like residential care or your finances you have to be sure the people you choose will act in your best interest. We know people who have slipped up on this.

“We have organised it between myself and my wife in the first instance then after that it’s our children.

“You can get a solicitor to do it if you haven’t got any relatives or someone you can trust.

“People have a nightmare trying to sort things out sometimes. It can cost a lot of money without power of attorney because you have to go through the legal system.

“It’s all to do with peace of mind, knowing you will get what you want when you can’t legally make the decision.”

Lasting Power of Attorney set up since 2007 can cover both health/welfare as well as property/finance issues. People who set up Enduring Power of Attorney before then may need to change their arrangements to cover loss of mental capacity as it would not have been in the original document.

You can talk to us today about all of this, and about making sure your Will is up to date, by dropping into a branch or calling to arrange an initial appointment on 0344 481 1226.

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