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03rd July 2018

Next of Kin cannot choose your Care Home

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As reported in the Times Newspaper on Saturday 30 June 2018, encouraged by many charities and highlighted by Solicitors for the Elderly in their campaign and report, “The incapacity crisis: a nation unprepared”, most people need to have a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, but do not have one. This may be because they are unaware of the problems that arise without one.  The report gives examples such as one lady who had no say in where her father lived, or how he was cared for when he lost capacity, because she was only his next of kin – which has no status in the world of medical and social services care. Without a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, her father’s care was decided by social workers and doctors, not by his daughter.

A third of people in the UK have made no provision at all for old age: no pension, no Will, no savings, no funeral plan and no Power of Attorney to cover their wishes neither on health and care nor on financial affairs. The report urges everyone to have a conversation with their loved ones about their medical and care preferences. As the example show, a conversation is not enough unless it is also recorded in a Lasting Power of Attorney.

Lasting Powers of Attorney allow you to choose the people you would trust to make decisions for you if you reach a stage where you cannot make those decisions or sign the necessary forms (or, in the case of finances, if you ever simply choose not to do so).  They are about making your choices now, while you can, to avoid choices being made for you by strangers.

As pointed out by Solicitors for the Elderly, incapacity is on the rise due to people living longer and the prevalence of conditions like dementia. We are a nation unprepared – too few of us have planned ahead to make sure, if we become unable to make our own decisions, that our wishes are followed. Therefore their message is Be Prepared. You should think about what you would like to happen if you were to lose capacity, speak to your family about this and arrange for a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney to be put in place.

Hewitsons have solicitors who have passed the extra exam to be accredited members of Solicitors for the Elderly and can assist with the preparation of Wills and Health & Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney. Our lawyers have specialist client care skills that enable them to advise and support older and vulnerable clients. Details of the Solicitors for the Elderly campaign is on their website, at the following link and the link to the Times Article is here. A link to our guidance note on Lasting Powers of Attorney is here.

If you would like advice, in the first instance please contact Antonia Cooper on 01604 463314 or click here to email Antonia, or contact Kelly Wardell on 01223 461155 or click here to email Kelly.