Many of you will have seen Alan Shearer’s documentary ‘Football, Dementia and Me’ on BBC One last Sunday. Dementia is seemingly prevalent in retired footballers, so much so that studies are being conducted into whether there is any link between heading a football and dementia in later life. Alan Shearer, who over the course of his career scored 46 goals via headers, took part in one such study as part of his program.
Alan also visited the families of other footballers who had been effected by dementia, such as Nobby Styles who is currently in the advanced stages of dementia. This highlighted not just the effect that dementia has on the person, but the impact it can have on the people close to them.
Seeing the effect that dementia can have on your loved ones may have spurred you into thinking about what would happen if you were to lose capacity, and what you could do to prepare for the possibility. If you were to lose capacity to make decisions for yourself who would make decisions for you? Who would manage your bills and other finances? If you needed medical treatment who would consent to this on your behalf? If you are married you may think your spouse will be able to do this for you, but this is not the case unless they are formally appointed as your attorney or deputy.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that grants a person or people the power to make decisions on another person’s behalf. Having an LPA will save your family a lot of time and distress in the event of your loss of capacity.
There are two types of LPA, both of which must be made when you have capacity. The first type is the Property and Affairs LPA which allows your chosen attorney to make decision about your financial affairs and property. The second type of LPA is the Health and Welfare LPA. This covers decisions about your personal welfare and health, and can only come into effect after you have donor has lost capacity.
Under both types of LPA you choose who to appoint as your attorneys, so this could be your spouse or partner, your children, or anyone else you trust to look after your best interests. You can also provide guidance to your attorneys so they can make the decisions as closely as possible to how you would. This can be done by making your preferences known and by providing instructions in the forms. Your attorneys should consider your preferences but don’t have to follow them. Instructions on the other hand must be followed. Instructions have to be carefully worded so that they are legally correct, your local Estate Planning Practitioner will be able to help you with this.
What if you don’t have an LPA though? If capacity is lost without any LPA in place, family and friends would need to apply for a Deputyship which takes significantly longer than registering an LPA. Applications to become a Deputy are handled by the Court of Protection, and the process can be very expensive with a £400 application fee (at time of writing).
If you haven’t got an LPA in place and this article has raised any concerns why not contact a member of the Society of Will Writers for assistance today? Find a local member on our website.
Written by Siobhan Rattigan – Technical Advisor for the SWW