“I have heard that one in three over 65s develop dementia. This scary statistic worries me and how can I protect myself and my loved ones in the future should this happen to me?”
Nia Wharry, Partner & Head of Wills & Estate Planning, Clarke & Son replies:
Lasting Powers of Attorney and Powers of Attorney generally have traditionally been perceived as documents for the elderly. This is no longer the case. The busy lives we lead mean that infirmity and adversity can impact on anyone’s lives irrespective of age. Lasting Powers of Attorney are documents that you sign, while you are able, appointing someone to help you make decisions in the future should the need arise. There is a Lasting Power of Attorney in relation to your finances and property and there is a separate one in relation to your health and welfare and your care.
The process of making a Lasting Power of Attorney is straight forward and you should seek the advice of your Solicitor concerning what is best for you and your family.
With regard to health and welfare there are always doctors and Social Services who are available to assist in this regard but in our experience people prefer family to make such important decisions for them, especially a decision such as refusing or consenting to life-sustaining treatment, should that rare occasion arise.
The financial Lasting Power of Attorney is very flexible because it is not suggesting that you have lost mental capacity to act in your affairs – you can simply allow your attorneys to make such decisions for you and to help you should any number of circumstances occur. For example, a stroke, losing the ability to speak or communicate, losing the ability to write, being housebound or simply getting older and just not being able to deal with ones finances anymore. It is a document that assists with physical infirmity as well as mental incapacity.
Dementia and mental health issues are a startling and worrying statistic as it affects many people in our community however putting the procedures in place now to have the legal documents in place ready for such future eventualities can give people a great deal of comfort and protection for both you and your families. After all, we insure our homes from fire, theft, flood – this is a far different, more personal type of insurance! This will protect you and your loved ones.