According to pensions provider Zurich, four out of five retirees with a drawdown pension plan do not have lasting powers of attorney (LPA) in place, putting their wellbeing and finances at risk should they find themselves unable to handle their own affairs in the future.
Arranging Lasting Powers of Attorney involves appointing an executor to take over legal authority should a person become ill or lack the mental capacity to deal with their own financial issues. Without an LPA, next-of-kin would have to apply to the courts to handle a relative’s finances, causing unnecessary stress and complication to an already difficult situation.
Zurich claim that the issue has been compounded by pension freedoms whereby people are able to choose drawdown payments over annuities, giving them full responsibility of managing their income during retirement. This has led to some pensioners having to make complex decisions over their finances which can be an issue if they find themselves unable to do so. Rising numbers of people face an increased risk of sickness or dementia in old age and the purpose of an LPA is to protect both an individual’s wellbeing and finances should this happen.
A spokesman from Zurich explained: “Many [people] are unprepared for a sudden health shock or a decline in their mental abilities. The time to set up an LPA is well before you need it, and pension providers should be highlighting this to their customers.”
The Alzheimer’s Society suggested that there is a considerable stigma surrounding LPAs due to its links to mental capacity, and – much in the same way people put off making a will – it is simply something many retirees do not want to think about. However, without Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, an individual’s assets and equity may be put at risk, or they may find themselves having to make a complicated and stressful decision about their care and finances while in a vulnerable position.
There are two main types of LPA available: one to cover an individual’s health and welfare, and another to handle property and financial affairs. Both are important in terms of planning for the future. The first can help you to make provisional decisions about how you’d like to be taken care of in the case of illness or decline in mental faculties. The second sets out instructions for managing your assets, which may involve selling property or paying for a care home. The Alzheimer’s Society has proposed that LPAs become a standardised part of setting up a pension to help retirees to avoid finding themselves unprotected at a later date.
To protect your future and ensure your own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of your loved ones, it’s important to keep an up-to-date will and draw up an LPA for your finances and healthcare. The experienced solicitors at Frances Lindsay & Co are here to take the weight off your shoulders. We offer expert advice on making a will, setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney, dealing with property, and appointing executors. To get in touch, visit www.franceslindsay.co.uk or call 01628 634667 to speak to one of our friendly family lawyers and secure your assets and wellbeing in retirement.