With the UK’s population getting older and, therefore, the number of people suffering from dementia – as well as other conditions which cause lack of capacity – increasing, the function and importance of the Court of Protection and the Office of the Public Guardian have never been more important than they are today.
In fact, ever since the introduction of the Mental Health Act in 2007 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the caseload of the Court has risen dramatically. For example, in April 2008, the court heard fewer than 50 cases, but by the same month in 2012, this figure was nearer 600.
Fortunately, it is possible for people to plan ahead to a time when they might lack the mental capacity to make decisions about their welfare, whether day-to-day aspects of living and care or more important landmark financial and health decisions.
This can be done by setting up lasting powers of attorney – an arrangement which ensures there is provision for important and day-to-day decisions to be made in accordance with your best interests in the event that you lose the ability to make them yourself.
Of course, this is not a decision to be made lightly, but the alternative to making a decision and choosing a suitable party for lasting powers of attorney, such as your solicitor, is to have no-one at all to fulfil the role. The results of this can be traumatic, cause uncertainty, and delay practical matters for your family members. It can also incur numerous costs as a result of necessary applications to the Court of Protection for clarification regarding decisions related to health, welfare, and finances..
The sad truth is that no matter how unlikely the situation, no person is immune from suddenly and unexpectedly losing capacity and if you have dependents, an estate, your future health, or loved ones to consider, making a lasting power of attorney is the best option for reducing uncertainty and providing for a future which takes account of your interests and wishes, even in the event you are no longer able to voice them yourself.
In order to be effective, a lasting power of attorney needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
George Ide LLP’s specialist solicitors work to ensure you nominate and confirm the right person as your Lasting Power of Attorney.
For more guidance on this and related matters, contact our Lion House office in Chichester today.