More important than a will
In an episode of The Martin Lewis Money Show earlier this year, the MoneySavingExpert.com founder himself stressed the importance of having a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Having had his POA since his thirties, Martin Lewis CBE stressed that “…in many ways, a Power of Attorney is more important than a will”.
He goes on to say “…if you die, you die and the money is going to go on to other people and you won't use it anymore. But if you lose your faculties, if you lose your ability to look after yourself mentally, then the question is what happens to your finances? And the truth is, let's say it's dementia or an accident or a stroke - severe ones - don't assume your family can access your money, not even if it's the money needed to pay for your care.”
The statistics speak for themselves
As we know, Martin Lewis knows his onions!
Dementia was the leading cause of death in England and Wales in 2022, with 1 in 11 people over 65 currently living with dementia and 1 in 2 people in the UK likely to be affected by dementia in their lifetime.
Further sobering statistics tell us that every 90 seconds someone is admitted to hospital in the UK with a brain injury, with traffic or contact-sport accidents being examples of what can go wrong.
Research conducted by the Stroke Association reveals that stroke strikes every 5 minutes, 100,000 people in the UK have strokes each year and there are currently 1.3million stroke survivors in the UK.
Losing mental capacity can happen to anyone, at any point.
What happens if I don’t have an LPA?
You won’t be able to choose who makes decisions for you - people you don’t know could end up making crucial decisions for you instead, such as whether to accept medical treatment to keep you alive, or about what you eat and wear and where you live.
Without an LPA, family or friends may not be allowed access your money to help support and care for you.
As the Money Saving Expert highlights, “To get [your money], they'll need to apply via the Court of Protection or equivalent. That's a hassle. It's long. It's costly. You might not get the right person appointed that you would have wanted to take over your faculties.”
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
An LPA is a simple and legally robust way of giving someone you trust power to make decisions for you if you lose mental capacity.
As Martin says, “you nominate a friend or relative to take over your affairs if you lose your faculties, IF. It doesn't mean you're giving up control now.”
Property and financial affairs LPAs deal with decisions such as:
- looking after your bills
- making investments for you
- buying, selling or maintaining your property
- making limited gifts on your behalf
Health and welfare LPAs cover things such as:
- whether you live at home or in a care home
- the leisure activities, diet and kinds of clothes you prefer
- what happens to your pets if you lose mental capacity
- whether to accept medical treatment to keep you alive beyond a certain point
Expert advice, here to help
Martin advises that, “the best way to get a Power of Attorney is through a solicitor” to ensure it is properly asset up, registered and in the best interests of the client, providing a safeguard against fraud and coercion.
At Susan Howarth & Company, we know that these topics can seem complex, confusing and daunting which is why are here. As a practice, we are very tightly regulated and answerable to our clients, the SRA (link) and the Legal Ombudsmen (link).
Using SH&Co. will give you peace of mind.
For further information, advice or to book an appointment with me, Emma Stride, Head of Wills & Probate and STEP member (The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) or Lisa Kingston, call us on 01606 48777.