85% of people in the East of England 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 Bryony Wilmshurst from Cunningtons LLP specialising in helping people plan for later life.
The report reveals that whilst 43% of people in the East of England have a will in place to manage their affairs after death, only 7% 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.
87% 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. 71% of 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.
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.”
SFE is an independent, national organisation of professionals, such as solicitors, barristers, and chartered legal executives, committed to providing the highest quality of legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers.
To download the report ‘Who will decide for you when you can’t?’ go to: http://www.sfe.legal
Lasting Powers of Attorney or LPAs
An LPA is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to manage your affairs, such as your property and finances or your health and care, if you become too ill due to an accident or illness like dementia.
- 7% of people have some form of LPA in place
- 85% of people don’t have any form of LPA in place
- 43% of people have a will in place
- 71% of people with an LPA in place did not use a professional solicitor to create their current LPA
- 87% of people would want their family or friends to make decisions on their behalf in the event they became too ill to make decisions for themselves
Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE)
SFE is an independent, national organisation of over 1,500 lawyers, such as solicitors, barristers, andÂ charteredÂ legal executives, who provide specialist legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers.
The main areas of law members cover are:
- Powers of Attorney
- Making a Will
- Living Wills
- Tax planning
- Asset preservation
- Paying for care
- NHS Continuing Care Funding
- Will disputes
- Court of Protection
- Elder abuse
To find out more about any of these areas, click though to the Wills and Probate section of the Cunningtons website.
What does being a member of SFE mean?
In order to be a fully accredited member of SFE, a lawyer must have a minimum of three years’ experience advising in areas of older client law and have completed the Older Client Care in Practice Award – a qualification which demonstrates the specialist client care skills that enable lawyers to advise and support older and vulnerable clients.
Members are also required to continuously update their knowledge with training and produce an annual statement of competence, which ensures they maintain their expertise.
Clients of SFE members can also be reassured by the SFE code of practice and safety of redress through the members’ regulatory bodies, should something go wrong.
For more information about SFE or our members, please visit www.sfe.legal or call us on 0844 567 6173 to find an SFE member near you.