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Are we heading for an ‘incapacity crisis’?

The Association of Lifetime Lawyers (formerly Solicitors for the Elderly) has recently released a startling report that suggests that Britain is heading for an incapacity crisis as too few people are making plans for their health and welfare should they lose capacity.

incapacity crisis

Laura Cowan

The report suggests that dementia has now overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in UK.  It says that, whilst more people are making plans for what should happen with their finances and personal possessions should they not be able to deal with them, health and social care is taking a back seat. Not enough people are considering issues such as how they are cared for and by whom.

Lifetime Lawyers’ research shows that the number of people diagnosed with dementia rose by almost 54% in the ten years from 2005/6 to 2016/17 and, mainly due to increases in population and life expectancy, it will continue to rise.  It is expected that there will be more than a million people diagnosed with dementia in UK by 2025 and 2.7 million by 2050.

The report encourages people to talk about incapacity and make plans for its potential occurrence so that vital life decisions are not made by strangers.  It appears that 75% of people have not spoken to anyone about their personal and medical wishes should they lose capacity and 63% believe – incorrectly – that spouses can make these decisions for them, should they not be able to (and 65% think the next of kin can make the decisions.)

Lifetime Lawyers stresses the importance of lasting powers of attorney (LPAs). Decisions about health and welfare issues can only be made by an attorney – which could be the spouse or next of kin – if a health and welfare lasting power of attorney  is in place. Without one, the person wishing to make those decisions would have to apply to the Court of Protection for an order – which can be complicated and take four to six months to secure. Furthermore, it is estimated that 90% of such applications are not approved and an order is granted to deal with one specific issue only.

Head of Graysons’ private client team, Laura Cowan, says: “I wholeheartedly agree with Lifetime Lawyers’ report. As families, we appear to fear discussing possible future eventualities and making plans for them, but it doesn’t need to be that way.  Making an LPA does not need to be difficult, and it can offer such peace of mind that you have appointed the right people to look after your health and welfare as you would want them to, should you no longer be able to.

Graysons’ experts can talk you through the benefits of putting an LPA in place, help you to choose attorneys and complete the necessary application. Contact us now for confidential and friendly advice.  You can read all about lasting powers of attorney on our website.

You can read the full report by Lifetime Lawyers here.

Author: Laura Cowan, head of Graysons’ private client team.

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