When David Cameron recently urged the pharmaceutical industry to step up its efforts to find an effective treatment or cure for dementia, he repeated the government’s concerns over the growing number of people suffering from debilitating mental illnesses. Research from the Alzheimer’s Society forecasts that there will be over a million people with dementia by 2021, highlighting that getting your affairs in order has never been more important.
The government is so concerned about the number of people who have not yet planned for their later years, including what would happen to them if they were affected by dementia or any other debilitative condition, that it has announced that it will be holding a ‘life planning day’ in 2015.
The life planning day is intended to promote awareness about making a will and creating a lasting power of attorney to manage your property and financial affairs and health and welfare if you are unable to. Choosing your attorney while you are of sound mind ensures that you are in control of who is to act on your behalf. Your chosen attorney must be someone who you can trust to act in your best interests.
Whilst making a will is relatively straightforward and can be done quite quickly, the process of appointing an attorney is more complicated and can take a long time. A lasting power of attorney cannot be used until it has been registered and there are no shortcuts or urgent applications that can be made to speed up the registration process.
With this in mind it would be a good idea to look at preparing your lasting power of attorney now, before the government’s campaign begins. The Office of the Public Guardian, the organisation who registers and oversees lasting powers of attorney, is already very busy. It currently receives 2,000 registration applications per day, with the average registration application taking 14 weeks to complete. The number of people preparing and registering lasting powers of attorney is set to increase in the next few years, as will the likely time delays.
“As an experienced wills and probate lawyer, I see many people in the distressing situation where they are unable to make important decisions on behalf of their loved ones and have no alternative but to make an emergency application to the Court of Protection. This can be costly and take a long time to be processed, leaving their loved ones vulnerable in the meanwhile.
I can therefore only encourage you to put your affairs in order now, ahead of the government campaign getting under way. Make time today to get your lasting power of attorney.”