From time to time we are asked to handle end of life arrangements for clients who have no family – no parents, siblings, children or spouse to help make decisions about their property, finances, health and welfare. Obviously this can be quite a worrying situation for someone on their own, but there’s an easy way to make the appropriate arrangements and ensure that your wishes – and you – are properly taken care of in the future: with Lasting Powers of Attorney.
According to a survey by Which?, almost two thirds (71%) of people have no plans for their end-of-life care. Over half had discussed their future wishes with friends and family but not put any concrete plans in place. Without a ‘living will’ or Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), if an individual finds themselves unable to make decisions about their healthcare, living arrangements and assets in the future, their loved ones would have to make decisions on their behalf without clear guidance, and often with an awful lot of added stress and legal difficulty. For someone with no immediate family, the situation is even more tricky, and if there is no one to step forward to make an application to the court of protection, a person’s end-of-life care decisions may fall to their Local Authority.
In this case, it’s important to speak to a solicitor and begin to draw up the necessary legal protections to protect your future. Here’s where to start:
Firstly, you should keep an up-to-date will detailing all your assets (property, finances, savings, businesses, possessions etc) and the beneficiaries to whom you would like to leave them, for example: friends, colleagues, organisations or charities. Next, you’ll need to appoint an executor to manage the probate process—this could be a trusted friend and/or your solicitor.
For Lasting Powers of Attorney, you will likewise need to appoint an attorney to carry out your requests regarding property and finances, and health and welfare. We would generally suggest choosing a close friend and a solicitor to work together. This way, you have someone who knows and loves you as well as an experienced professional who can help support then through the legal issues.
An LPA is an official document that provides instruction on how you’d like your affairs to be handled in the event that you are unable to do so yourself, due to illness, injury or mental incapacity. This might include the type of care you receive and how to pay for it, how to manage financial decisions and your preferences for future living arrangements. Without Lasting Powers of Attorney, these decisions may end up being made without your input, or without your preferences even being known. It’s also an enormous responsibility for someone to make on your behalf, especially if you don’t have any close family or friends around to do so.
Having a professional will and Lasting Powers of Attorney in place can really take the worry out of any future ‘what ifs’ and ensure that your wishes are taken care of. If you are on your own, it’s worth sitting down with a solicitor and discuss your options for passing on assets, protecting your wellbeing and finances, and planning for end of life care.
Our friendly, down-to-earth team are here to take the weight off your shoulders when it comes to legal issues, no matter your circumstances. Get in touch to book an appointment and let us help you get your affairs in order.