This is an extremely personal matter. My ex-husband suffers from early on-set dementia and requires 24-hour nursing at the tender age of just 63. We hear about cases like his more and more but the practicalities of looking after a loved one are still not really talked about.
It has been exceptionally difficult for my 3 sons as my ex didn’t write a Will or prepare an LPA, leaving them at the mercy of the Court of Protection and the Office of Public Guardian. Neither of these institutions have service standards and are not renown for their “bedside manner”.
My ex left his job just after lockdown but didn’t go on to claim his pension or any benefit, instead living off his accessible savings. This decision was later seen as a clear symptom of his illness as he clearly hadn’t thought about his long-term future. He had worked for over 40 years and so had built up a sizable pension pot but had no regular income. This meant that when his savings ran out, my sons had to support him financially, with no right to recompense for a considerable amount of time.
Without an LPA, they could not choose the care home for him or spend any money on his behalf and when he became a grandfather, they were not allowed to buy any gifts from him for his granddaughters without approval from the OPG. They could not make decisions on his pension investments and so he lost a considerable amount of money while the matter was pending.
The grief and distress of watching their father’s soul disappearing was bad enough but to have to submit audited accounts, justify everything they spend and deal with such a cold organisation has been so very hard.
So, why am I telling you this? Because nobody told him that when we got divorced, he should not only do a will but also an LPA. No one told me that I needed to do an LPA when I rewrote my will recently and when I ask my friends and colleagues, most people are of the opinion that their blood relatives will have the legal right to help them if they get sick or incapacitated.
I don’t really understand why people would ask for a will without an LPA as the LPA is there to help them and their loved ones while they are alive. I believe the reason this happens so frequently is most people know about wills but remain largely ignorant of the importance of LPAs.
The most obvious and appropriate person to advise on these matters is a lawyer but how many conveyancers, divorce lawyers, probate specialists advise their clients to do a will and an LPA after their transaction is over?
This is not being pushy or salesy but, in fact, is vital education and essential advice. In my opinion, the LPA is AS important as the will and not to be done when you are old but when you are young and fit.
In fact, offering an LPA when someone is writing their will is essential for their protection, peace of mind, and the assurance that their wishes will be respected even in situations where they cannot express them personally.
So, next time you are completing a transaction, please talk to your clients about wills and LPAs so someone else’s children don’t have to go through the same ordeal that mine have.