On the willwriting circuit, there are numerous horror stories of where families have suffered because their loved ones did not write Wills or Lasting Powers of Attorney when they were able to.
One of the worst stories we have heard recently is of a willwriter who wrote Wills for a couple in the late 2000s. This couple (lets call them Mr and Mrs Jones) were in their 40s and did not see the need for Lasting Powers of Attorney, which would allow them/their loved ones to make decisions if they were to lose mental capacity. After all, they were still young!
Fast-forward ten years, Mrs Jones calls up the willwriter and angrily demands to know why he did not advise them to do Lasting Powers of Attorney (he did, they declined). Since they last met, Mr Jones has suffered a car accident resulting in brain damage and loss of use of his legs. So understandably Mrs Jones decided to move from their up-and-down house to a bungalow, to better care for her husband.
Unfortunately, when it came to sign the contracts for the house deals, Mr Jones was unable to sign because he no longer has sufficient mental capacity to do so. Mrs Jones cannot sign on his behalf because she does not have Power of Attorney for him. The deals cannot go through.
None of us know what is around the corner, we obviously hope for the best but we cannot guarantee how things will turn out. Putting Lasting Powers of Attorney in place means that if our health prevents us from making our own decisions, loved ones we choose and trust can do so for us. They will make the decisions we would have wanted, or at least know what is in our best interests, rather than Social Services potentially making decisions we would not want. It also makes our loved ones’ lives easier if such problems were to arise.
The Office of Public Guardian is currently taking up to 20 weeks from when they receive Lasting Power of Attorney applications, to register them, until which time they cannot be used. So if the best time to do your Powers of Attorney was ten years ago, the next best time is definitely right now.