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Mind over matter?

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With care homes featuring frequently in the press and on the television the UK’s eye has been drawn to the rapidly increasing older population.

Whilst in the 80’s a man would be estimated to live until the age of 84, a boy born today would have a life expectancy of 89 and in 2030 it is expected to be 91.

Concerns around the aging population

The reason for this sharp increase in the aging population can be put down to several factors such as, healthcare, nutrition, medicine and lifestyle. The lives we would have lead fifty years ago would be dramatically different to the lifestyles we all currently experience.

With the elderly population increasing there are obviously consequences for public bodies, businesses and families.

Publicly funded care homes have been fighting a losing battle with bad press and rumours of mistreatment and abuse ruining their reputation. Likewise, the NHS has been crying out for further funding in order to meet the care requirements of their elderly patients.

For family members, concerns over the payment of care fees plus an increasing pressure to care for relatives at home places an additional strain on modern family life.

1,000,000 per year will suffer from dementia by 2021

With such a rise in the elderly population mental illness such as dementia and Alzheimer’s has been on the increase. Whereas previously, people may not have attained the ages they do now, today there is an increased likelihood of the body outliving the mind.

The Alzheimer’s Society has reported that in 2012 800,000 people in the UK suffered from dementia, whereas in 2021 it is predicted that 1,000,000 will suffer with the illness in some form or another.

For those families where the person in question has already prepared a Lasting Power of Attorney then the named attorneys will be able to implement this document so as to manage the person’s affairs on their behalf. This is by far the most straightforward way to ensure the smooth management of your affairs in the event of mental incapacity.

For those persons that become ill without a lasting power of attorney it will be for someone appropriate to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a Deputy.

Deputyship applications are often feared due to the length and expense involved in the application, however, in some cases it is the only option. Often a problem occurs when the person who is ill needs to go into full time residential care. They have funds to pay for their care, however, no one is legally authorised to withdraw the money from the account to settle the fees.

You choose who, what, where and when

People are often confused by the difference between an attorney and a deputy. An attorney is someone that you choose to appoint at a time when you are able to fully understand the nature and implications of the document you are preparing. In the case of a deputyship order, someone else is applying to the Court to be appointed to look after your affairs.

Once appointed, a deputy is able to act on your behalf within the remit of the court order granted. In the case of a property and financial affairs deputyship order, this will usually include the ability to manage and make decisions about your property and finances.

A deputy will have to provide an account to the Court of Protection on an annual basis showing what action has been taken with your affairs.

To contrast this to a Lasting Power of Attorney (for your property and financial affairs), this document is effective as soon as it has been registered with the office of the public guardian. There is no obligation to provide accounts, but your attorneys should keep detailed records of your dealings. An attorney is able to do anything with your property and finances that you could do if you were not unwell.

Due to the increase in the ageing population and cases of dementia, whether we like it or not the issues facing families will keep recurring. A Lasting Power of attorney is always the preferable route however, for those without one; a deputyship order is an effective means of taking over the management of someone’s affairs.

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