Losing the ability to make decisions

Dec 9, 2020

For many people, the coronavirus pandemic has brought into focus the fragility of life. It has also been a lesson in just how quickly the things we all consider to be ‘normal’ can be taken away from daily life.  

Now, imagine if you were to lose mental capacity and become unable to decide for yourself where you should live, or whether you should have a particular course of medical treatment. The idea of not being considered capable of making these types of decisions – decisions about your finances, property and personal welfare that you will have made throughout your life – in the future may be difficult to take on board. However, it really does pay to be prepared.

Not everyone will lose mental capacity. But, given that none of us can predict how an illness or accident might affect a person’s life (this isn’t just a consideration for the older generation), it is worth putting in place measures to retain some control over how you will be cared for, and the things you own protected. One such way is by appointing a named person to make important decisions on your behalf, should you need this.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document made by a person while they have mental capacity. It specifies who should become that person’s ‘attorney’ or ‘attorneys’ in the event that they go on at some point in their life to become unable to make certain decisions for themselves. The attorney is often a family member, but it can be anyone over the age of 18 who you trust to act in your best interests. You can set out wishes and instructions. And you can choose to create a Lasting Power or Attorney for health and welfare or for property and financial affairs (ideally both).

Bear in mind that if you have made a Will, that will not cover a situation in which you lose mental capacity during your lifetime. So it’s important to provide for that possibility too. And while you might never need your Lasting Power of Attorney, knowing that it is in place can give great peace of mind.

To find out more about making a Lasting Power or Attorney, or for any advice about planning for the future, contact aguilfoyle@bsandi.co.uk or call us on 01264 353411.

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