Later Life Planning for Seniors

Legal Planning is about Life Management

As we journey through life, it is essential to plan for the future, especially in our later years. Legal planning is not just for the wealthy or those with complicated estates; it is a vital step for everyone looking to safeguard their legacy and ensure their wishes are respected. In this blog post, we will delve into the significance of legal planning and why it is a crucial aspect of comprehensive life management, in partnership with expert in the field Laura Selby, who is a partner at Harding Evans Solicitors and heads up their Wills and Probate team.

One of the most important aspects of later life planning is to ensure that your wishes are honoured. While we all consider this is something that we must look at when nearing our senior years, we should all ideally start planning this sooner rather than later. When we met with Laura at Harding Evans’ office in Newport on 30th of November, she advised “It is important to consider your wishes well before you reach older life, especially if you have dependents or assets as life can be very unpredictable. We find the most challenging cases we have worked on are when an individual loses capacity due to injury or a health-related condition; there are no second chances to make your own decisions when life takes away control. We actively encourage life management for anyone with dependents or assets because it gives families peace of mind and security.”

Laura Selby qualified as a solicitor in 2008 specialising in trust and estate planning, which includes Wills, Probate, Power of Attorney and Court of Protection. The dedicated Wills and Probate team at Harding Evans includes solicitors who are members of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP), adhering to STEP’s mission to “inspire confidence in families planning their assets across generations by setting and upholding high professional standards, informing public policy, promoting education, and connecting practitioners globally to share knowledge and best practice.”

Harding Evans also have solicitors who are members of The Association of Lifetime Lawyers (formerly Solicitors for the Elderly) undertaking additional, specialist training to ensure understanding and best practice when dealing with older and more vulnerable clients.

Planning Earlier Rather Than Later - Getting Older.

Nobody wants to think about getting older, but it is important to plan for the future as early as possible. As we age, several factors contribute to our increased vulnerability to external influences:

  1. Cognitive Decline: Aging is often associated with cognitive changes, may including a decline in memory, processing speed, and executive functions. This can affect an individual’s ability to critically assess information, make decisions, and resist external influences.
  2. Physical Health Conditions: Older individuals may experience health conditions that can impact their overall well-being. Chronic illnesses, medications, and physical limitations can contribute to vulnerability, affecting an individual’s ability to resist external pressures or influences.
  3. Social Isolation: As people age, they may experience changes in their social circles. Isolation or a reduced social network can make individuals more susceptible to external influences, as they may lack diverse perspectives and supportive relationships.
  4. Psychological Factors: Changes in psychological well-being, such as increased stress, anxiety, or depression, can make individuals more susceptible to external influences. Emotional factors can play a significant role in decision-making and susceptibility to external pressures.
  5. Financial Insecurity: Some older individuals may face financial challenges, which can make them more vulnerable to scams, fraud, or manipulative practices. Financial stress can impact decision-making and increase susceptibility to external influences.
  6. Societal Changes: Aging individuals may find it challenging to adapt to rapidly changing societal norms, technologies, and cultural shifts. This can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and increase vulnerability to external influences.
  7. Trust in Authority: Older individuals may have grown up in a time when there was a higher level of trust in authority figures or institutions. This trust can sometimes make them more susceptible to manipulation by external sources that may not have their best interests at heart.

By preparing for your future early, your wishes will be protected and there will be people that you trust on hand to help make decisions in your best interests, should it become necessary.

Important Documents to Put in Place

Planning for the future is not just about having children, buying a house, going on holidays and all the fun things that help us grow as young adults because what happens if tomorrow throws a curve ball; planning for the future should also include making a Will and putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place.

At Home Instead Gwent and Monmouthshire we recognise that not one individual is the same as vulnerability can vary widely. Our ongoing partnership work is vital to our service provisions and why we partner with organisations such as ‘Harding Evans’ as this enables us to provide the right information to our clients. We give guidance in our initial client meetings to ensure that when we complete our care plans all of our clients have a Will or a Lasting Power of Attorney in place or are given the right sign posting information to put that protection in place.

  1. Making a Will

Harding Evans explains ‘Time has a funny way of creeping up on us’ and this is very true, especially if we were all to look back on the last 10 to 20 years it feels like that time has gone in a flash.

So, what is a Will and what should a Will include:

A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your property and/or assets after you pass. If you have dependents, you can also use your will to nominate a guardian for them.

‘You can include anything you want in your ‘Will’; from who will inherit your money and possessions, to the details of your funeral and who you want to carry your wishes by appointing executors and trustees.

If you have children, you can also set out clearly who you would like to look after them in the event that both parents die. Maybe you have remarried or are in a new relationship, you can make sure your ‘Will’ balances between providing for your new spouse or partner and any children from previous relationships.

If you die without having a ‘Will’, the state decides what happens to your money and possessions – meaning you may not be able to look after your loved ones as you had wished.’

It is also important that you review and update your Will regularly. If you have gone through a life event such as divorce, moving house, or even the loss of a partner, you will need to update your Will. It is recommended that you take a look at your Will every five years, just to make sure that everything is still as you would want it to be.’

Harding Evans Solicitors

  1. Putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in Place

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows an individual to appoint one or more people to make decisions on their behalf in case they become unable to make decisions for themselves due to mental incapacity. The LPA is a way for individuals to plan for the possibility that they might lose the capacity to make decisions in the future.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney in the United Kingdom:

  1. Health and Welfare LPA: This grants an individual(s) the authority to make decisions about another person’s healthcare, medical treatment, living arrangements, and other personal welfare matters.
  2. Property and Financial Affairs LPA: This gives an individual(s) the authority to make decisions about another person’s finances, property, and other financial matters.

You can prepare an LPA at any point in your life, to ensure that you have nominated people to make decisions for you, if you lose capacity either physically or mentally in the future.

By planning ahead, you can take control and choose who you trust to make important decisions about your health, care, and finances if anything were to happen on your behalf. You can appoint as many trusted individuals as you wish but for practical reasons, we would not recommend more than four.

Some key points to consider:

  • Legal Requirements: Creating an LPA involves completing specific forms and registering them with the Office of the Public Guardian in the UK. The person creating an LPA must have mental capacity when creating it.
  • Appointed Trusted Person(s) Responsibilities: have a legal duty to act in the best interests of the person they are acting on behalf, and they must follow any instructions or preferences specified in the LPA.
  • Registration: An LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used. However, instructions can specify whether they want the LPA to be used immediately or only if they lose mental capacity.
  • Revocation: An LPA can be revoked or changed at any time, as long as there are no issues with mental capacity.
  • Safeguards: There are safeguards in place to protect anyone creating an LPA, such as the requirement for a certificate provider (usually a professional) to confirm that all parties involved understand the LPA.

It is crucial to seek legal advice when creating an LPA to ensure that the document meets all legal requirements and adequately reflects an individual’s wishes.

Delayed it too Late - What Can I Do When We Have Nothing In Place

Life can sometime take a nasty turn and can go from smooth sailing to sailing on turbulent water. If you are in a position where a loved one has unfortunately lost their capacity with no Lasting Power of Attorney in place, you will need to apply to become their ’Deputy’ through the Court of Protection.

A deputy must be aged 18 or over and is usually a close relative or friend, or in certain cases a professional such as a solicitor or accountant. Where there is more than one person applying, the application must specify whether you are applying to make decisions together (“jointly”) or individually as well as together (“jointly and severally”).

Several forms need to be completed for the Court of Protection about the person’s assets, income, and outgoings, including a form regarding their mental capacity that their medical practitioner must complete. It usually takes 6 to 8 months for a final order to be issued, before which a bond must be paid.

It is still very common for families having to apply to the Court of Protection, which can be a lengthy and costly process, and why Home Instead and Harding Evans encourage earlier life management to give peace of mind for any of life’s hurdles or difficulties.

One final point to end on when we look at life management and that is our preferences can change at any one time in our lives, so it is important to review a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney on an ad hoc basis, to ensure these continue to meet your needs.

If you need further information or advice do not spend the time worrying about a loved one or anything care related or legal call us on 01633 740028 where we can give you the right guidance and if the need presents it refer you to the lovely team at Harding Evans as we all have your best interests at heart.