The only way to guarantee that your wishes are followed is to plan ahead, says Hegarty Solicitors’ KaronWalton
Most of us are aware that the population is growing. What you may not realise is that within the next ten years a third of us will be retired. As more of us live for longer, more of us are spending 20, even 30 years as a retiree. By 2025, the proportion of those aged 65 or over will have increased by a fifth.
The ageing population and the increased prevalence of long-term conditions have a significant impact on health and social care. There is growing concern about how care funding will be assessed and provided for in the future. Research shows that people are not planning early enough for later life and not considering financial planning, pensions, creating a will or lasting powers of attorney (LPA). Most importantly we are not having those hard, challenging conversations about what may happen in the future.
Most people would like their families to help or support them in decision making if they require care, either in their home or in a care home setting. It is essential that we discuss our preferences and wishes, feelings and beliefs around finances and medical and healthcare decisions, as well as those difficult conversations around end-of-life treatment and death. Having a conversation about your medical and care instructions and preferences early on will ensure your wishes will be followed.
However, while these conversations set out what you would like to happen, it is essential to formalise your wishes in law, to eliminate any potential for doubt and legally validate what you wish to happen. Talking about end-of-life care or death can be a difficult conversation to have, but it is an essential aspect of planning and ensures your voice is heard. If you are in a care situation, it is crucial for your views to be recorded down and if you are unable to give instructions, then the people you trust the most can do so on your behalf through their legal status by way of best interests through an LPA. An LPA can be a useful tool in supporting your wishes, especially if you are unable to give instructions due to mental incapacity.
There are two types of LPA: a financial, property and affairs LPA which allows another to manage your finances; and a health and welfare LPA which covers medical and social care. However, it is essential that any decision to appoint another is carefully chosen and that you have considered all the options open to you. Making a will is also extremely important and ensures that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes. A will avoids any doubt as to who is entitled to your possessions and who has the legal authority to deal with your estate. Seeking specialist independent legal advice is crucial, to safeguard your future and give you and your loved ones some sense of certainty and peace of mind.
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