The Covid-19 vaccine brings hope that we can soon emerge from this pandemic, however as we do I think most of us have learned valuable lessons about what is actually important in our lives.
The loss of loved ones has been horrific but also for many the loss of social contact and interaction has had an adverse effect on our physical and mental wellbeing. The isolation felt by many has been compounded with the inability to be able to manage our everyday lives and finances.
“My Aunt’s health has been very good up until recently.
At 76 years of age she was active, independent and mobile”
The stark reality of this was felt all too keening by my family recently. My Aunt’s health has been very good up until recently. At 76 years of age she was active, independent and mobile. I had tried on a number of occasions to get her to complete a power of attorney as her sister, my Mum, had done. She steadfastly refused. She saw it as an intrusion, an admission she was somehow not capable and despite my best efforts she would not budge.
“The stroke also lead to dementia and as a result she is now
in full time care. That was really just the start of the issues”
Unfortunately, out of the blue, my Aunt had a stroke. One day she was fine the next she was unable to care for herself or even speak. The stroke also lead to dementia and as a result she is now in full time care. That was really just the start of the issues. With no power of attorney, her children could not access her accounts even to obtain cash for her to spend in the care home. Her house remained locked up and bills arrived on a daily basis.
In respect of her care, a social worker was appointed who makes decisions about how and where she is cared for. Although discussions take place with the family final decisions do not rest with them.
All of these things made a bad situation even worse. Her children are now faced with making an application to the Court of Protection to enable them to sell her property which can take around 14 months to conclude.
“A Power of Attorney for financial matters would
have allowed my Aunt’s attorneys to make payment of her bills,
deal with her bank accounts and if necessary sell the property
on her behalf to pay for her care”
The stress and upset of this situation could have be lessened had powers of attorney been obtained when my Aunt was well. A Power of Attorney for financial matters would have allowed my Aunt’s attorneys to make payment of her bills, deal with her bank accounts and if necessary sell the property on her behalf to pay for her care. The Power of Attorney for health and welfare would have allowed my Aunt to specify her wishes and preferences in respect of her care whilst she was well enough to do so. The majority of the stress and worry could have been avoided. All too often these documents are considered as an afterthought rather than them being treated as individual’s ability to remain in control. We all insure our property against fire in the knowledge that is highly unlikely to happen but we make provision in case it does. Powers of Attorney should be viewed in the same way. They are an individual’s insurance against the worst happening in the hope that it never does.
These events have prompted me to write this blog in the hope that this situation can be avoided for other families.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Simply put, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document, or set of documents, that allows nominated persons, usually family or close friends, to take care of you and your finances should you find yourself in a situation whereby you are unable to do so for yourself. It’s important that a Lasting Power of Attorney is made before you become ill, as it clear from my own experience, there is a lengthy process to follow if an application to the Court of Protection is needed.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney and it’s advisable that you have both in place.
What is a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney?
A "Health & Welfare" LPA allows your nominated persons to make decisions about all aspects of your care, including any medical treatment or deciding where you are to live. This can only be used if you is no longer able to make such decisions for yourself.
In my own experience, if my Aunt had a Health and Welfare LPA in place then the decisions around her residence could be made by those closest to her rather than the decision being left to the Social Worker.
What is a Property and Financial Lasting Power of Attorney?
A "Property and Financial" LPA allows your nominated persons to make decisions and take actions regarding your money and your property such as enabling them to access your money to pay your bills, allowing them to selling your home to raise fund for your ongoing care, collecting any benefits owed to you and the general managing of your bank accounts. This can be effective immediately or only if and when you no longer have full mental capacity to be able to manage these matters for yourself.
If you want to discuss Lasting Power of Attorney in more detail and to determine whether you should have one then please call us at any of our offices and we will be very happy to help.
Call our Wakefield office on 01924 290 029
Call our Garforth office on 0113 246 4423
Call our Ossett office on 01924 586 466