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What is lasting power of attorney?

elderly ladiesIt’s not a cheering subject but do you know what would happen if one of your elderly relatives was suddenly incapacitated and unable to make decisions about money matters and health and welfare?

If they had a lasting power of attorney (LPA) set up then they know who will be looking after their interests if something happens – accident, illness – which means they lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions. Obviously, it’s a good idea to have an LPA however old you are – but it is essential for older people. If you have an elderly relative, then you should ensure they have LPAs set up.

There are two types of LPA: ones covering health and welfare (so, for example, what kind of treatment you would want if you were diagnosed with a serious illness) and ones which cover property and wealth (how you’d like your money and home handled if you could no longer make decisions). According to Direct Line Life Insurance, only 14% of Britons have set up LPAs. Few knew that if they were incapacitated it wouldn’t be up to their family to run their affairs but the state, in the form of the Court of Protection, which would take charge. Only 6% had set up health and welfare LPAs and just 4% life and property LPAs. That’s shockingly low.

Direct Line says that it costs typically £320 plus VAT to draft an LPA. That’s not an inconsiderable sum. But if I had an elderly relative I’d definitely suggest they get LPAs set up. We didn’t have LPAs for my late mother and had no problems with her care or finances – but then, she remained mentally sharp right up until a few days before she died. Had she not, then how would we have known she wanted to go into a hospice and didn’t want to be resuscitated if her heart failed? An LPA would have made her desires clear.

There’s lots of information about LPAs and why they are essential here. And Jane’s blog here offers more food for thought. If you’ve an elderly relative then you need to talk to them about setting LPAs up. It may not be the easiest conversation you’ve ever had, but one of the most important, surely.

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Thursday, 21 February 2019