How to prepare for the future – part 2
Following on from the Big Conversation I spoke at in May 2016, it is important to take action on the things that were discussed. This does not mean that your life becomes obsessed by your dying, as there is a risk that you will forget to live. If you have one conversation a year with your family about it and all of the others tens / hundreds / thousands of conversations you have are about living, truly living, then this is likely to be enough for your family to know your wishes, as long as the one conversation has enough detail on your wishes.
So part 2 is all about creating Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), which will allow someone else to make decisions for you, if you need to have them made, when you are no longer able to do that for yourself. There are two kinds, one dealing with finance and the other covering health and welfare, so I will take those in turn.
The Property and Financial Affairs LPA covers all financial assets that you own, not just the big stuff, but all the little stuff as well, such as your jewellery, photos, furniture and clothes. It of course covers your money and house. If you retain mental capacity, but become too physically frail to sort out your finances, then you can allow your attorneys to act for you. During this time, their actions should be limited to your directions and they should not make their own decisions for you, they can do that when you lose capacity. So it is worthwhile that if you have a particular view about your finances, that you tell your family. Also the things that people row about is often the little things, such as a particular picture, piece of jewellery, chair or table! So if you know where those things are to go, then make your wishes clear, it will save a lot of worry, hassle and conflict!
Also if you want to stay in your own home for example, if you become unwell, then let your attorneys know, have the conversation around the risks of you becoming unwell and not receiving 24 hour care, but 4 visits a day! If you don’t mind going into care, then tell your attorneys the kind of home you want to go in to.
The Health and Welfare LPA can only be used once you have lost capacity to make your own decisions. The generically important decisions tend to be end of life decisions and where you live, which means whether or not you go into care and if so, which care home you go into. But it includes all medical decisions and all social care decisions, which includes what you wear, what you eat, what social activities you can participate in and as such have a huge impact on your life. So if you have a view about any of these, then tell your attorneys.
Both kinds of LPAs need to be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian at a cost of £110 per LPA (subject to means tested exceptions) and registration can take 8-10 weeks depending on how busy the OPG are.