Many people would associate the need for such legal provision with elderly parents, at a point when they’re unable to make decisions affecting their welfare. However, in many circumstances, applying to deal with financial transactions and care responsibilities on behalf of a loved one is something younger people also have to face.
Take the family of rugby legend Rob Burrows, who many will have undoubtedly seen across their TV screens recently. Rob, 38, who has Motor Neurone Disease (MND), is undoubtedly an inspiration to many people, due to his continuous fundraising for MND charities and his mission to raise awareness of the condition.
Despite receiving his diagnosis less than two years ago, Rob has already lost the ability to speak without technological intervention. Without Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), Rob’s wife would have had great difficulty organising his finances, his care plan and any other important decisions he would make under normal circumstances, had the disease not entered his life.
Research may soon uncover a firm link between degenerative diseases, such as MND, Alzheimer’s and dementia, and players of contact sports—World Rugby has even commissioned a ‘landmark’ study on the subject. The heading of a football or physical clashes in and out of scrums, over time, could potentially damage a player’s brain cells, according to some medical professionals—damage that could then develop into life-limiting conditions.
Anyone who has gone through the process of attaining an LPA may have formed the impression that it’s convoluted. However, due to the rising number of LPAs needed, the Office of the Public Guardian and the Ministry of Justice are attempting to address the issue by looking at ways they could modernise the procedure. The public will be able to have its say on the subject, and one thing that has invited scrutiny of the process is the pressure the pandemic added, when the offices of LPA professionals were forced to close. There’s only so much that can be done over Zoom; digital conferencing hasn’t yet solved the issue of signing legal papers in an individual’s own handwriting. Outcomes the professional bodies hope to achieve include faster processing times and a streamlining of the process, so that it integrates with legal professionals’ case management systems.
One huge problem with LPAs is that a significant portion of people apply for them when the catastrophe they’re managing has happened, i.e. a loved one has already been diagnosed. Although the system is trying to cut processing times, once a loved one loses mental capacity/comprehension, things become much more difficult, which is why we recommend applying for an LPA upon marriage or when you move into a long-term relationship with your other half.
There’s a lot to be said for living for today…but, from experience, we see the fallout in clients’ lives of people who never think about their tomorrows, or the things that can go wrong in life on the turn of a coin.
Rob’s wife, his childhood sweetheart, Lindsey, not only has his physical care to consider, she also has their three young children to look after. Coming to terms with his diagnosis at such a young age has been difficult enough—we can’t imagine the pressure that legal hurdles/challenges could have added to the situation, which is just another reason why you should consult a professional on the subject sooner rather than later.
To make an appointment to discuss LPAs and how you can put one in place, call Ruth Wilson on 01226 107111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org