Eldercare

As of 2017, the average life expectancy in the UK is 79 years for males and 82 years for females. Due to the increase in the average life expectancy of adults in the UK, there has been a sharp rise in those seeking legal advice for issues concerning growing older and what steps can be taken to protect future interests later on.

Protecting your interests in the long run: lasting power of attorney

Many of us do not like to consider a time when we may not be able to make decisions for ourselves, however being prepared now will help in the long run. One way to protect your interests now is to consider the creation of a power of attorney: • Power of attorney refers to the act of allowing someone to legally make decisions on your behalf when you no longer have the capacity or wish to do so. • The creation of an attorney will give you more control in situations where you normally would have little control. For example, if you contract an illness or have an accident leading you to lose the ability to make your own decisions. • Power of attorney covers decisions regarding your property and finances (for example paying your bills), or your health and care. The creation of an attorney is relatively simple. You do not need a solicitor to do it for you, as it is designed so that individuals can do it for themselves. It involves a fee of £82 per type of attorney, therefore costing £164 if you wanted both a property and financial attorney and a health and care attorney. A form will also need to be completed and sent to the Office of the Public Guardian, who will then register your attorney. You will be able to make changes to your attorney for as long as you have the capacity to do so. Any changes that you decide to make must be done so through the Office of the Public Guardian. You can access the forms, along with the government guidance, here: https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney Alternatively, you can contact the Office of the Public Guardian directly on 0300 456 0300 if you would like the forms to be sent out to you in the post.

Protecting your interests after death: wills

Studies have shown that nearly 60% of adults in the UK have no will. With the average adult spending approximately 98,000 hours of their life working, more and more are leaving plenty of assets behind upon death. For those 60%, there is a little control over what happens to their well-earned assets. Without a will, a person’s estate (their assets) is automatically inherited in a specific order (known as the rules of intestacy) by family members or the crown. Those who are not related through blood (for example common law partners) are not automatically entitled to a share of your assets. You can find out more about intestacy here: https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will If you want to ensure that your loved ones and your hard-earned assets are cared for upon your death, it is important that you consider creating a will. There are a number of different ways in which you can create a will, you can: 1. Do it yourself. If you have very few assets or very simple wishes then you may be able to consider writing a will yourself. In order for a will to be valid, it must be signed by yourself willingly and knowingly, in the presence of two entirely independent witnesses. You do not need to follow a set pro forma but can buy a do-it-yourself pack from a newsagents if you would feel more comfortable with a set template. Although this can save money, it is not generally recommended unless you have some specialist knowledge of the subject given the complications it can lead to, should there be errors or misinterpretation. 2. Hire a solicitor If you have a large number of assets, any complex wishes or have convenes about inheritance tax, then it is suggested that you look to hire a wills and probate solicitor to draft a will for yourself. You can find a solicitor through the law society database: http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ 3. Insurance policy or building society account You may find that you have coverage on a home or motor insurance policy or through a building society account, to have a will drawn up or reviewed by a legal professional. 4. Free wills month Every year, in March and October, a number of national UK charities band together for free wills month. During these months, adults aged 55 and over may have a simple will drawn up by a solicitor in return for them agreeing to leave a small donation to a chosen charity upon their death. For further information, please see: https://freewillsmonth.org.uk/ If you have any questions around eldercare and protecting yours or a loved one’s interests in the long-term, then Health Assured are here to help. You can contact us through your bespoke helpline number or email us: counsellingadvice@healthassured.co.uk You can also visit our online portal: www.healthassuredeap.com

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