As a nation we are not very good at talking to each other about important matters such as serious illness, end-of-life care or death. Perhaps we secretly think that by talking about something that has not yet happened, and may not happen at all (serious illness not death, that is), we may somehow cause it to appear in our lives.
But having conversations about your options and preferences and making a Lasting Power of Attorney while you still have the mental capacity to make vital decisions yourself, will give you and those closest to you the confidence that your wishes are documented and will be respected in the future.
Let’s talk about Lasting Power of Attorney
Of the 51 million adults living in the UK, 27 million (53%) do not have a Will, stipulating what should happen to them and their estate after their death. More worryingly though, more than 60% of those aged over 55 have no Lasting Power of Attorney, giving someone the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf about their property and financial affairs or health and welfare should they become incapable or unwilling to do so themselves while they are still alive.
Discussing your wishes and preferences with friends and relatives while you are still able to do so may be a sensitive and emotional experience, but it will save a lot of heartache and stress later on. Such conversations will give you the peace of mind and them the reassurance that they are making the right decisions about how you live your life when the time comes for them to act on your behalf.
Make the conversation easier by following these simple steps:
- Take the initiative – be brave and tell your family and friends that you want to talk them about Lasting Power of Attorney.
- Choose a date and time that works for everyone if you want it to be a group discussion, perhaps over lunch, or arrange to meet everyone individually, maybe over coffee.
- Recognise how emotional these conversations can be but make sure you relay information honestly and clearly.
- Prepare yourself to answer any questions they may have and allow others to relay their thoughts and feelings to you.
- Remember that not everything has to be decided over one cup of coffee. Set a time limit for discussions and meet again if you need to.
Topics of conversation
Preparation is the key to successful conversations about Lasting Power of Attorney. There is a host of information that both the donor (the person giving the LPA), the attorney or attorneys (those who will have responsibility for making decisions for you when the time comes) and other concerned parties will need to know.
Here is a list of subjects you should aim to cover:
- where they can find all your important financial and legal documents
- details of your property, investments etc
- your beliefs, feelings and views (religious and otherwise) that could/should affect a decision
- who the important and/or significant people are in your life (family, friends, accountant, solicitor etc)
- living arrangements (your own home, a care home etc)
- your daily routine
- your dietary preferences
- how you like to be addressed (eg. by your first name or as Mr/Mrs/Dr etc)
- significant dates (birthdays, anniversaries etc)
Your conversations with family and friends will most probably throw up other items, which you should make a note of and answer as best you can.
One such topic is the attorneys themselves. Once you have thought about who you would like to be your attorney or attorneys you will need to discuss this with them and gain their agreement to take on the role. You will also need to discuss their responsibilities with them and what they can and cannot make decisions about. Any limitations will need to be stipulated in the LPA. You should then tell everyone who needs to know who your attorneys are.
Find out how Edward Hayes LLP can help you set up a Lasting Power of Attorney by contacting us now on 01243 781431 (during office hours) or 0800 085 9684 (out of hours) or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org