at what age can you become incapacitated?
Andrew Pearson holds the STEP Advanced Certificate in Will preparation for England and Wales
The idea of Lasting Powers of Attorney is a simple one. While we still have full mental capacity we legally appoint trusted others to make future decisions on our behalf about our finances and health & wellbeing when we’re not able to as a result of injury or illness. The question is, at what point in life should we be appointing these trusted others?
The idea of mirror wills is simple. A couple leaves everything to each other. Then, they believe, their estate will benefit both of them for life, and their children after that. The bad news is such a simple idea can backfire badly, utterly destroying the best of intentions.
Around 95% of the adult population doesn’t have Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) so it’s little surprise that not many people have even heard of them, or understand their very great importance.
I’m sure a lot of people assume that if they’re suddenly unable to make decisions for themselves, then a loved one can just step in and make them instead. But the law doesn’t allow that.
Those loved ones would first have to apply to the Court for the necessary Power of Attorney. This can often take months, will incur considerable Court costs and, even worse, the Court may actually sideline relatives and appoint an official that the incapacitated person and their family don’t even know. Yes, it may sound unfair, but that’s the law.
Of those few who have heard of LPA, there’s a common assumption that they’re for old people who may be starting to become forgetful or developing dementia. Whilst the need for older people to have LPAs is perhaps more acute, many overlook the need for younger people to consider putting them in place.
After all, incapacity is no respecter of age ─ as I experienced driving home from Scarborough at Easter. Catastrophe is equally real for the young girl in the car crash on the M62 that I witnessed and narrowly avoided.
Road accident, stroke, terminal illness or other causes of incapacity can strike any of us at any time. In any of these events if you, or perhaps your partner, become incapacitated then access to your income, bank accounts and investments would be frozen. And yes, that would include joint bank accounts. Not even to pay living expenses.
Most of us renew our house, car and other insurances annually. We take out life cover to protect our family in the event of death. We don’t do this hoping to make a claim ─ especially on the life cover ─ but to give us peace of mind that if the worst were to happen, we are covered. People should look at LPAs in the same way.
Lasting Powers of Attorney provide fundamental legal peace of mind
Consider these questions and if you answer yes to any of them, you really need to get informed about LPAs and how they would help and protect you:
The Ministry of Justice campaign ‘Choice not Chance’ recommends we should all write LPAs. Don’t leave it to chance, choose to have a free initial consultation with me and get informed.