Lawyers Say Lasting Powers Of Attorney More Important Than Ever
New stats show a big increase in the amount of older people living alone, prompting concerns from lawyers of an increase in elderly and vulnerable abuse cases.
The stats from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed in its household and families report the number of people living alone in 2018 increased by 300,000 in a single year, driven by women aged 45-64 years and men aged 65-74 years. The figure is up 6.6% since 2008.
The ONS argues as well as a rise in divorces and male life expectancy, the ageing population in the UK is responsible for the shift in household patterns – and without a rapid uptake in Lasting Powers of Attorney applications this could cause serious issues, argue experts at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell.
There have been a record amount of dementia diagnoses in the NHS, with figures from June showing over 450,000 people in the UK had been formally diagnosed with dementia – a 7 per cent increase in three years.
The Alzheimer’s Society in May this year published a report predicting the number of people living on their own could rise to 240,000 people by 2039, painting a worrying picture for the future of the elderly and vulnerable.
Kelly Greig, head of later life planning at Irwin Mitchell said: "The aging population in the UK is very much becoming a reality for us all, as the ONS stats reflect a big uptick in single households.
"There are still a lot of people who don’t even have a Will in place, let alone lasting powers of attorney. Elderly people living alone can be very vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals that take advantage of their finances, unbeknownst to their friends and family until it’s too late.
"Pair these latest stats with the figures from the NHS on rising numbers of dementia diagnoses and we are potentially facing a big increase in the amount of financial abuse cases we see."
As part of its recently published business plan, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is launching a campaign to encourage the public to take out lasting powers of attorney, which exist in two forms: financial and health. These allow a trusted individual, such as a family member or friend, to make decisions on the donor’s behalf should they lose capacity.
Kelly continued: "We understand nobody likes to think about growing old and not being in control of their own lives. LPAs are easy to take out and can help to provide peace of mind that your loved ones – or, if you prefer, an independent third party – will be able to help you should the situation arise.
"Planning for later life is so important and so much more can be done with just a few simple plans in place. It isn't just about the Will anymore – ensuring protection during your lifetime is just as important."
Published: September 2019
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