When speaking with clients and families about their elderly relatives and the need for care arrangements, I often allude to the fact that as with parenting children, there are no manuals that come with elderly relatives. So often we never address such issues until they are at crisis or something happens to someone else which spurs us into action. It is after all a human response and I regularly hear clients say, “I never thought it would happen to me”.
As a former health professional and qualified Solicitor, I see it from both angles. However, having worked in the NHS and worked extensively with Social Services, it is evident these organisations are currently overstretched in terms of being under-resourced of staff and funding to support care packages. Decisions taken by these organisations are not always what you would want or wish for.
With our elderly population now living so much longer and the quality of life expected to be much greater, we all need to be sure we at least think about our elder years – and ideally take steps to make sure we are protected should the need for care arise.
Throughout 2020 within this series of articles I will be considering different aspects of care.
My first and primary advice is that you should consider dealing with appointing someone to act on your behalf in the event you either lose capacity or are physically incapable of remaining independent. These documents are referred to as Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) and are now available in two forms, one to deal with Property & Financial affairs and secondly to deal with Health & Welfare.
Often clients readily accept the need to create a Property & Financial LPA but overlook the need for the Health & Welfare LPA. The latter is critical when care is required otherwise health and social services staff, who do not know you, will make what are known as ‘best interests’ decisions on your behalf. I urge you to consider who you would prefer to make such decisions – someone who knows you, your wishes and lifestyle or someone who has never met you or known you?
Naturally you need to select attorneys that you know or who are professionally qualified such as myself and staff within the firm, who could act on your behalf at the point in time you are unable to do so.
As a new decade begins, don’t put off seeking help to get these documents created – it will be the best insurance you have to ensure your future choices and preferences are protected.
Sometimes the roles of attorneys and executors are easily confused so please note that your attorneys are effective during your lifetime and executors deal with the administration of your estate, following your passing.