People who become too frail or immobile to manage their own affairs are at risk unless they make the correct legal arrangements for their children to take control, a Worcester lawyer has warned.
The alert comes from solicitor William Jones who says, following the release of new data, that more parents must take steps to give their children a Lasting Power of Attorney.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document which allows an individual to appoint a family member, trusted friend or professional to be their Attorney. It gives someone, who is no longer able to make decisions for themselves, the ability to hand management of their day to day affairs to another individual – as well as make larger decisions such as arranging the sale of property.
The arrangement has become more commonplace since 2010 with around 200,000 people each year granted lasting power of attorney on behalf of loved ones.
The growth is down to both the rising numbers of people living longer, and living with conditions such as dementia, as well as growing awareness of the need to plan for retirement. Official statistics show 183,000 people were registered for a Lasting Power of Attorney in 2011/12 with a substantial rise to 229,000 in 2012/13.
Mr Jones, from law firm mfg Solicitors, has welcomed the rise but says arrangements must be put in place by people who are still able to make decisions for themselves.
He said: “A Lasting Power of Attorney is extremely valuable when someone no longer has the ability to take care of their bills or personal affairs.
“Ensuring that a relative, with dementia or other conditions that come with age, is well looked after can be extremely stressful. The last thing most families would want at such a time is to have to go through the costly and lengthy process of applying to the Court of Protection.
“So by mum or dad obtaining a Lasting Power of Attorney, it means their children will have the tools they need to make sure that their parent’s receive the help and assistance they need.
“The problem is it’s an arrangement that can only be set up while someone still has the capacity to make the decision for themselves. It is up to the individual to appoint the person they want to take over their affairs for them once they lose that capacity.”
But Mr Jones said that getting a Lasting Power of Attorney does not need to be difficult.
He added: “Applications can be made online, but families still require professional advice and assistance to make sure they are certain about the process. That advice is not just necessary for the person granting power of attorney, but the relative or other nominee who is taking on such an important responsibility.
“It is not something anyone should leave too late to discuss. At the very least, everyone with adult children should have the conversation about what they want to happen once they are in need of care.”
Anyone looking for advice on Lasting Powers of Attorney can call William on 0845 55 55 321 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org