Harnessing the Power of a Power of Attorney
This last few weeks at BDB we have experienced a common theme with respect to one of the key issues our clients are tackling, and that is the sensitive and sometimes upsetting experience of dealing with their increasingly frail parents needs.
Care costs and the issue of how we pay for the care for our increasing elderly population became a huge topic of debate in the recent general election. The headache for future Governments isn’t likely to go away in a hurry either, with the 2015 World Alzheimers report predicting that the number of people living with dementia worldwide is set to double every twenty years.
There is currently little clarity on how best to tackle this issue coming from any side at Westminster. A fact which is clearly unhelpful for effective short term planning around care costs for our clients families and themselves.
On a personal note I am currently assisting my elderly grandparents navigate the complex and stressful experience of the local authorities financial assessment. It is this which will govern how much they should contribute to the costs of their care. So far, the experience has been frustrating and their calculations unfathomable. I am thankful for the excellent resources provided online and in person by charities such as Age UK to help me navigate the maze. I do wonder how an elderly frail person on their own would fare.
One thing which has been really useful in my case has been the existence of a Power of Attorney. This document enables representatives to effect financial changes (e.g. operate a bank account) for someone who has lost the capacity to sign documents or operate their personal financial affairs effectively themselves. The alternative to this is to engage with the Court of Protection which can be an expensive and time consuming business.
Registering Powers of Attorney for my grandparents will enable us to help them get their affairs in line with their needs and remove a lot of stress and confusion.
Powers of Attorney now come in two forms. One to cover your financial affairs as discussed above, and another which empowers your representatives to carry out your wishes with respect to decisions around your health. You can find more detail on Harriet’s informative note about Lasting Powers of Attorney here.
Many people don’t get round to thinking about this until too late. You must have capacity at the time the Powers of Attorney are created which can prove a problem if left until the last minute. For this reason we recommend all of our clients have in place Lasting Powers of Attorney and also encourage them to speak to elderly relatives to get them in place too.
As Personal Finance Directors we sit at the heart of our clients legal, tax, investment and financial advice team. Due to our extensive regional and national network we are well placed to introduce the best professionals for the job in hand. Often the costs and hassle factor of effecting important planning like this can be far less onerous than one might first expect.
Have you got your Lasting Powers of Attorney organised? We would be happy to help you get this in place or explain further why it is so important to have one. Why not get in touch?