87% in North East leave life-changing decisions in the hands of strangers10/11/2015
- Alarming new report reveals people in North East leaving major decisions about housing, assets and care to chance
- 84% want loved ones to make decisions in the event of illness or accident – but only 6% have created a lasting power of attorney (LPA) to enable this
- People in North East better at planning for death than later life; 43% of people with a will vs only 6% with an LPA
87% people in the North East are currently living with no control over important later-life decisions around their housing, assets, heath, and care, according to a new report by SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly), the national organisation representing legal professionals such as Helen Robinson from Mincoffs Solicitors specialising in helping people plan for later life.
The report reveals that whilst 43% of people in North East have a will in place to manage their affairs after death, only 6% have a lasting power of attorney (LPA) in place to safeguard their wishes in the event they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves, due to accident or illness like dementia.
84% want a family member or friend to make important decisions on their behalf, in the event of illness or an accident. However, few are aware that without an LPA in place, any individuals’ affairs, such as their end-of-life wishes and health treatments, can be left in the hands of third party solicitors, social workers, medical doctors, or the British courts.
Even the minority of people that have taken steps to plan ahead for later life may still be at risk, due to poor quality legal advice and invalid documents. 14% the people with LPAs in place did not use experts or legal guidance, instead taking a gamble using online resources, non-legal advisers, or off-the-shelf kits.
Helen Robinson, Solicitor of Mincoffs, said: “The statistics from Solicitors for the Elderly are alarming. The only way to ensure that decisions relating to your property and financial affairs or health and welfare matters can be taken should you become unable to do so, is to sign a Lasting Power of Attorney. This will give you the peace of mind that your affairs can be dealt with the way you would want them to be and prevent complications for loved ones at what may already be a difficult time. I hope the Solicitors for the Elderly campaign raises the awareness of just how important these documents are and highlights the problems that can occur without them.”
Lakshmi Turner, Chief Executive of SFE, said: “Most people assume that if they suffer an illness or accident, their next of kin will be responsible for vital decisions. The reality is starkly different – loved ones may not be able to make a decision on your behalf unless you have an LPA in place. An LPA is by far the most powerful and important legal document an individual can have. If you have children, own a home, or have views on your preferred health treatment, we urge you to go to an expert to get the right advice.”