Associate solicitor Patrick Brennan, in our leading Probate, Tax & Trusts team, discusses Dementia Action Week and why making a will or ensuring that your will is up-to-date, and having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place are important when planning for the future.
20 – 26 May will mark Dementia Action Week 2019, led by the Alzheimer's Society. According to the charity, around 850,000 people in the UK have the condition, with a new diagnosis made every three minutes.
Regardless of their stage in life or their current situation, we advise clients to prepare for all eventualities and to make the necessary preparations to ensure that both their own future needs and their loves ones’ interests are taken care of.
Many people leave such matters until later in life or until a situation arises. That can lead to unnecessary worry at an otherwise difficult time (for example a diagnosis of Dementia) and potentially result in a number of avoidable problems. We recommend having both an up-to-date will and a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, both of which are briefly explained below.
An up-to-date will
A will is a legal document that records to whom your estate should pass and who should be in charge of sorting out your affairs after your death. It allows you to plan for the future by protecting the interest of your loved ones and passing your assets onto the next generation.
You may already have a will in place but it is essential to keep it up to date, particularly when significant life events occur. For example, if you have children or grandchildren, get divorced, if an executor or beneficiary dies in your lifetime or if there are any changes to your wishes or circumstances.
What happens if you do not have a will?
Without a will your estate will be administered in accordance with the Intestacy Rules, which often mean that your estate does not pass to those who you would want it to. Given that making a will is a relatively inexpensive exercise and one that can saved your loved onesunnecessary worry and expense after your death, we recommend that everyone should make a will.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
An LPA is a legal document whereby you give a person or persons (known as attorneys) the ability to make certain decisions on your behalf should you become incapable of managing your affairs due to a lack of mental capacity.
It is important to remember that this could happen at any stage in life, for reasons ranging from early onset Dementia to a brain injury caused by an accident. Careful consideration should of course be given to choosing someone who will make the right decisions, in your best interests.
There are two types of LPA:
- A property and financial affairs LPA, which allows your attorney to deal with assets such as bank accounts, investments and your house.
- A health and welfare LPA, which allows your attorney to make decisions on your behalf relating to medical and related matters , but only when you lack mental capacity to do so yourself. This could also extend, if you wish, to giving or refusing consent to the continuation of life sustaining treatment.
What happens without an LPA?
If you lack capacity to make a financial decision, then it may be necessary for an application to be made to the Court of Protection for an appropriate order, such as appointing another person to make decisions on your behalf. This is both more costly and time consuming than putting in place an LPA. Having an LPA in place will also provide ease and reassurance for you and your loved ones.
Many care and treatment decisions can be made on your behalf on the basis of your medical best interests, without the need for a court application. However, if you wish to avoid potential disputes you can give Attorneys authority to make those decisions on your behalf by making a welfare LPA.
For further information or legal advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0118 951 6800.
This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.