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What the Sex Pistols, TS Eliot and LPAs have in common

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Solicitor Daniel Prince recently turned 50, here he looks at the definition of old in our society and what legal preparations you might need to make….

“It was a seminal moment, the big 50, the end of my youth, or so I was told - although I still enjoy following punk bands and have not yet sighted a grey hair - so what does it really mean to be 50.

It’s a fact that people are living longer, we also work longer and hopefully go on to enjoy an active retirement, but that can only happen with forethought, planning for our future, for our finances and for our family.

But what is the definition old, I googled it and apparently it depends who you ask and how old they are. A recent survey said it was at age 68. However, with the arrogance of youth the under 30s said the typical person becomes old before reaching their 60th birthday - it’ll come to them!! Those currently aged 65 and older say old age begins at age 74. Women, on average, say a person becomes old at age 70, while men say age 66 is old.

To complicate matters further, only a fraction of the survey participants said that their chronological age captured how old they feel – I know that feeling.

But as a legal professional I know how important it is ‘to get your house in order’ as it were, to have a Will, have retirement and pension planning in place, but also to consider a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).  This is not something just for the ‘really’ old, sadly with an increasingly elderly population there will naturally be a greater number of people with dementia, a condition that carries with it a number of debilitating brain disorders.

LPAs should therefore not simply be a consideration for elderly people and there are many other good reasons why younger people should make an LPA.

You need to take a minute to consider your own personal circumstances and think about what would happen if you were incapacitated even for a short period of time through an accident or illness: would your spouse or partner be able to access your bank accounts to pay for necessary bills, deal with insurance companies on your behalf, sell a jointly owned house, change mortgage providers, have the standing to question your medical treatment etc?

Also, if you own or have an interest in a business special consideration should be given to preparing an LPA.  It is vital that your and or any other business partners have this provision in place to allow the continued smooth running of the business in the event that you (or they) are temporarily or permanently incapacitated.

There are two types of LPA: - one that deals with property and finances, and one that deals with health and care decisions.  By preparing one or indeed both you empower trusted attorneys to make the best decisions on your behalf.

If however a person has not had the foresight or opportunity to prepare an LPA before losing mental capacity then the situation is more problematical, expensive and time consuming as an application will have to be made by an interested third party to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship order.

LPAs are designed to be recognised by financial institutions, care homes and local authorities, as well as tax, benefits and pension authorities. They are legal documents that can be set up alongside your Will.

To protect your interests, an LPA must be signed by a certificate provider, ideally a solicitor who certifies that you understand the LPA and have not been pressurised into signing it. You could choose close friends or relatives (other than your chosen attorneys) who must be formally told that you are setting up an LPA and given the opportunity to raise any concerns.

But essentially aside from being legal documents they make life easier for those around you, they can make decisions on things such as buying and selling your property, dealing with your bills, running your bank accounts and investing your money. If you have a personal health/welfare LPA, they can generally make decisions about where you should live, how you should be treated medically, what you should eat and who you should have contact with.

So, as I move onto the next stage in my life shall I wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled and measure out my life in coffee spoons, as suggested by TS Eliot, or should I remember what the Sex Pistols sang about when I was 11 years old, they said there was “no future”, but clearly there was, I am now in it and need to plan for the remainder of it!

Be patient with me I’m training to be an old person…….

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers LLP or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.