A recent article on Law Plain & Simple about “extreme sports and the employment stance” got me thinking about our message concerning the importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney.
While not the exclusive domain of youth, extreme sports tend to be more popular with the younger demographic and although extreme sports, such as rock climbing, caving, skydiving and white-water rafting might not be your typical pastime, it is not that unusual to go skiing, snowboarding, scuba diving or even horse riding.
So, it is not just the over 55s that should look at the importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney. Although it is not pleasant to think of the “worst that could happen”, in fact, the risk of dying with most sporting activities is surprisingly low, however, accidents can… and do happen…
We only have to look back to December 2013, when German Formula 1 legend, Michael Shumacher was left disabled with brain injuries after a near-fatal skiing crash whilst on holiday with his family.
In fact, it’s not just those who participate in sports, whether extreme or not, that can suffer accidents or incapacitating illnesses at any time. No-one wants to think about what would happen if they lost mental capacity and could no longer manage their affairs, and people often assume that their next of kin will automatically be able to make decisions on their behalf if they are no longer able to do so. But this is not the case.
Even though a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is, in our opinion, as important as a Will, research by the Office of the Public Guardian found that 45% of the over-45s are not aware of LPAs; separate findings from Saga Legal Services reveal that two thirds of Britons haven’t even drawn one up.
An LPA lets you nominate one or more people to handle your property and financial affairs, and to make decisions about your health and welfare.
One type of LPA involves matters such as managing bank accounts, paying bills, collecting benefits and selling your home, while the other includes vital decisions around things such as medical care, choice of care home, and whether or not to have life-sustaining treatment.
If you have not set up an LPA and need someone else to make these and other financial decisions for you, they will not be able to, even if it is your spouse, until they have applied to the Court of Protection to become a Deputy for you. This process is not only time-consuming, costly and upsetting for all involved, but also comes at an already distressing time.
In addition, unfortunately the Court may not necessarily agree with your Deputy’s request, as it often applies limits to the amount of funds which may be withdrawn.
Children’s author, Heather Bateman, was forced to get permission from the Court of Protection to access family funds to take care of both herself and her family after an accident left her husband in a coma.
You can hear her interview on BBC’s One Show about her experience here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNqGw1cvnkI
The sad thing is that if Heather’s husband had had Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, such problems could have been avoided.
Author: Jo Legerton
DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic.