Experts Call For More To Be Done To Raise Awareness Of The Issue
By Rob Dixon
Legal experts have urged that the important role that Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) can play in ensuring the welfare of vulnerable people should not be forgotten, as Carers Week is held across the country to raise awareness of the work being done by those who look after loved ones.
Being held from June 10th to 16th, Carers Week is a UK-wide awareness campaign to raise the profile of caring and ensure the public are able to not only get the support they need, but also able to gain advice and information on a range of vital issues.
The initiative, which is supported by charities including Age UK, Carers Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support and Parkinson’s UK, has been welcomed by Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Private Client team
According to the legal experts, the campaign is a timely reminder of two key issues - the importance of an LPA and the need to ensure a clear, concise and updated will has been prepared.
Gillian Coverley, a Partner in Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Wills team who provides advice on issues including LPA, explained: “When people plan for the future, they often wrongly assume that they have plenty of time to put retirement provisions in place and also to draft a clear and concise will.
“However, they often fail to properly consider what would happen if they are affected by dementia or another condition which impacts on their capacity to make vital decisions. A LPA allows a person to select a friend or relative who they would want to deal with their affairs during their lifetime, in the event of the onset of a condition such as dementia.
“Making these arrangements can make matters much easier in the event of such problems, as it will allow the nominated person to take control of financial issues and ensure all decisions are made with the best interests of their loved one in mind.”
Gillian added: “We have seen cases when families have needed to access the finances of a loved one to pay for their care, but as an LPA had not been considered they have not been able to.
“The importance of planning for the unexpected cannot be ignored and we would urge people, as Carers Week continues, to think carefully about their future and how they would like their affairs to be handled if they are unable to make their own decisions.”
Adam Draper, a Partner and expert in Will, Trust and Estate Disputes, added that it was not uncommon for his team to see cases when carers are not provided for in a will. This can create financial difficulties for a carer who may have given up work or sold property in order to care full time for the person. Many of these problems could be mitigated through a will or statutory will if the patient does not have capacity.
He outlined: “Leaving a will with clear instructions about how people want their finances and other assets to be divided is hugely important and it is always vital that people prepare and update such documents regularly.
“People’s circumstances change all the time and we have sadly seen cases when those who have gone on to care for loved ones are left out of wills – simply because it has not been updated – or not provided for because a will has not been prepared in the first place.
“It is always important to ensure wills are kept up-to-date and loved ones kept in the loop on decisions which are made and the reasons behind them. This can be vital for ensuring that friends, family and carers do not face difficult and costly legal battles over getting access to what they believe they are entitled to.”
Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in relation to Powers of Attorney