I’m not often moved to tears by a blogpost – and if you haven’t been reading Baroque in Hackney’s, “Christmas with Alzheimers” and “Alzheimer’s update: horror story de nos jours” – you’re missing out. I’m not sure if my sadness is for Ms Baroque, her aunt – or whether the prospect of my own possible dotage/coma/infirmity and feeling a burden is too much to bear.
My first call to action is for you to click the above links and read Ms Baroque’s story.
My second call to action is for you to consider this: who do you want to manage your affairs when you are unable to manage them yourself? Your spouse? Family? Friends?
Unless you’ve registered your wishes before you’ve lost the ability to manage your own affairs, everything from paying your bills to decisions about your medical treatment and even where you will live will be in the hands of the Public Guardian (Court of Protection) and not your next of kin – not even your spouse.
Even if you’re not as sentimental as me, your eyes would water at the emotional and financial expense families have to bear getting permission from the Court of Protection to allow them to manage their loved one’s simple day-to-day living arrangements.
As Ronald Reagan once said,
The nine most dangerous words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the Government and I’m here to help’.
The one way to keep control of your affairs in the family or with a trusted friend is to execute and register a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a prescribed form legal document authorising another to make decisions on your behalf which needs to be witnessed and registered with Public Guardian to be effective.
There are two separate types of LPA (and if you want to authorise someone to have comprehensive power to deal with all of your affairs, both powers must be registered):
Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney
This power authorises another to make medical treatment decisions etc on your behalf where you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney
This power authorises another to access your bank account, pay bills, buy or sell your home, etc.
What Happens if I don’t have a LPA?
It’s like not having a Will – except you’re alive. Rather than your trusted family member or friend being able to make sure your bills get paid or make decisions about your medical treatment, your personal affairs are taken out of your hands and dealt with by the Court of Protection.
So not only would your family members have to deal with the challenges of, for example, caring for someone with Alzheimers – they would have the added burden of dealing with Government officials for every decision about your care, where you live and your finances.
If Ms Baroque’s blog hasn’t spurred you into action, Perhaps this BBC One Show clip (scroll down) on Lasting Powers of Attorney with Dom Littlewood will.
Both LPA forms are available here. I’m filling mine out now.
I see that a “professional will writing” company has linked to this post. Here’s my tip: If you want legal advice, it makes sense to go to a qualified solicitor or direct access barrister. Qualified barristers and solicitors have been TRAINED. They also have professional indemnity insurance if things go wrong. A LPA or a Will for that matter, is precisely the sort of document clients cannot afford to get wrong.
Which solicitor would I see if I had a wills, probate or LPA issue? Armstrong Private Client in Stoke Newington.