Lasting Power of Attorney and Will: Why you need to talk about these two important documents

Lasting Power of Attorney and Will: Why you need to talk about these two important documents

Author: Michaela Hillan

In last month’s article we looked at some of the challenges of caring for an elderly parent or loved one. This month we have turned our attention to two important legal documents it is useful to have in place. Especially for those you care for.

When you care for an elderly parent or loved one it is inevitable that you will need to think about their future. This includes what will happen if they are no longer able to live in their own home or who will take care of their affairs when they die.

The need for permanent residential care, or the death of a loved one, are upsetting times and the practicalities can feel overwhelming. The situation can be made infinitely more complicated if steps have not been taken to ensure their affairs are in order.

Two legal documents everyone needs

In reality, there are many documents you may need to have in place depending on your personal circumstances. However, two documents that are of huge importance whatever your age are;

  • A Lasting Power of Attorney, and
  • A Will

Below is an outline of each document and how it can help to have them in place before they are needed.

Lasting Power of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney is not just for the ill or elderly. In fact it is an invaluable document that most people would be advised to have in place.

In the event that you are unable to take care of your own affairs, whether through illness, injury or incapacity, a Lasting Power of Attorney means a trusted person takes up the reins and acts on your behalf.

If you care for an elderly relative, a Lasting Power of Attorney means that you can be included in conversations regarding their medical and care needs as well as look after things like paying bills and accessing funds. All without lengthy delays such as waiting for the Court of Protection to grant you authority.

Although you don’t have to use a solicitor or legal adviser to draw up a Lasting Power of Attorney, it can be complex and needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian in order to be recognised. With this in mind, you may prefer to seek professional support to draw up this document.

AgeUK has a useful video that explains Lasting Power of Attorney, and other types of Power of Attorney, which you can watch here.

Last Will and Testament

More commonly referred to simply as a Will, this document ensures your loved ones know what you want to happen to your estate after your death. If you die without a Will in place it is known as dying ‘Intestate’. When this happens your estate may not go to the people you want it to.

What’s more, the people dealing with your estate after your death will face lengthy and sometimes costly delays if there is no Will in place.

There are a number of different options for writing a Will, including writing it yourself. However, they can be complex documents so you may prefer to take professional advice.

AgeUK has another useful video that explains the importance of having a Will, which you can watch here.

Starting the conversation

As a carer, carrying out the wishes of your loved one will be easier if both of these documents are in place. Yet, like money, talking about a Lasting Power of Attorney or Will can feel intrusive. You might recall a BT ad that said, “It’s good to talk” and that is certainly true in this case.

In 2018 around 18% of GB adults were aged 65 or older, with the prediction that by 2050, 6 million GB adults will be aged 80 or over. This increase will be accompanied with greater need for care - either at home or in residential care homes.

Although we are, generally, living longer, that doesn’t mean we are all enjoying better health. In fact, it means that older people will often be living longer with increasingly complex medical needs.

The health issues and care needs of your elderly parent or relative may include;

  • Increasing frailty
  • Dementia
  • Mobility
  • Incontinence
  • Complex medication regimes

This makes it all the more important to have the relevant documentation in place, allowing you to act on behalf of your elderly loved one with minimum delay or red tape.

Taking care of the paperwork

Taking expert advice about setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney or writing a Will can help you and your family to feel confident that you are carrying out the wishes of your relative.

You can find valuable information about choosing an appropriately qualified advisor on websites like Age UK and Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA).

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