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GUIDE TO LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY

Expert Solicitors Explain Lasting Powers of Attorney

1. What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

An LPA is a document which confers power to others to make decisions on your behalf when you are not able to.

There are two different types of LPA you can make:

  • Property and finances, which relates to managing your assets (bank account, buying and selling property, shares, and day-to-day finances).
  • Health and welfare, which relates to welfare and medical treatment decisions (such as where you might live, the care and medical treatment you receive and day-to-day welfare decisions).

If you do not put an LPA in place and were to lose mental capacity to manage your affairs, then a family member or close friend would need to make a court application to obtain a deputyship order.

2. Do LPAs come into effect as soon as they are signed or when the donor does not have mental capacity?

The property and finances LPA can be used whilst the donor has capacity and with their consent or if the donor does not have the required capacity, then the attorney can make the required decision. The health and welfare LPA can only be used by an attorney if the donor does not have the required capacity to make the decision or is unable to communicate their decision (e.g. they are in a coma).

The starting principal is that the person who puts the LPA in place (the donor) should be supported to make the decision required. Only if they are unable to make the decision should their attorney do so instead.

Capacity is decision specific and so it will depend on the decision required as to whether the donor is able to make it.

3. Difference between general power of attorney and LPA

A general power of attorney is only effective whilst the donor has capacity and is usually limited to specific item or task (e.g. sale of property or a company), whereas an LPA lasts beyond the donor losing capacity and is wider reaching in regards to the type of decisions being made.

4. Who can you appoint as your attorney? Does it have to be a family member?

You can appoint a number of attorneys or replacement attorneys. The LPA forms allow you to insert details of four attorneys or two replacement attorneys, however, there are continuation sheets if you wish to appoint more.

It is most important that you appoint people that you trust and so often people appoint their spouse or adult children. However, you can appoint another family member (sibling, niece or nephew, for example), a trusted friend or a professional (such as a solicitor or accountant).

5. Health and welfare LPA – can you appoint a professional?

Due to the type of decisions to be made, you will not be able to appoint a professional as your health and welfare attorney. The donor will need to consider appointing a close family member or friend who knows their wishes and what they want to achieve regarding care and treatment.

6. If you appoint more than one attorney, do they all act in making decisions?

The donor can decide how the attorneys will act – jointly and severally, jointly or jointly for some decisions and jointly and severally for others.

If you have appointed more than one attorney or replacement attorney, we would usually recommend they are appointed on a joint and several basis. This is because if you appoint your attorneys jointly and one of them is unable to act in the future (for example, because of life events, they lose capacity or predecease you) then the power would no longer take effect and the LPA would be invalidated. If your attorneys are appointed on a joint and several basis and one is unable to act, the others can continue to act under the LPA in your best interests. This will, of course, depend upon who you wish to appoint and the specific circumstances as to which option is best.

7. What happens if your attorneys have opposing thoughts?

Hopefully, your attorneys can reach a decision in the donor’s best interests. However, if they cannot, then they may need to go to the court for a decision.

8. What happens if the donor’s relationship with their attorney changes – can the donor change or revoke their LPA?

It is not possible to change an LPA once the document has been made. But if the donor wishes to make a change, they can revoke their existing LPA and put in place a new one.

9. If the person’s next of kin is not listed as an attorney, can they override an LPA decision?

Generally, no. If you have taken positive steps to appoint who you want to make decisions on your behalf, then your next of kin who are not appointed cannot overrule an attorney’s decision. If a next of kin or someone else close to the donor has concerns about how the LPA was made or if there was undue influence, then they can make an application to the court to review the document.

10. Making and registering an LPA

Each LPA form has a number of sections to complete, including:

  • Details of the donor
  • Details of the attorneys or replacement attorneys
  • How the attorneys can act
  • Life-sustaining treatment decisions (health and welfare only)
  • People to be notified when the LPA is registered
  • Preferences and instructions
  • Certificate Provider

Once the different sections have been completed, the donor, attorneys and certificate provider need to sign the LPA in the correct order.

Once the LPA is completed and signed by all parties, it cannot be used until it has been registered at the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). There is a registration form attached to each LPA to be completed by the person submitting the application (which may be the donor or the attorneys, if the donor has lost capacity).

The signed forms are sent to the OPG with the registration fee (currently £82 per LPA). The OPG will review the LPA and ensure it has been completed correctly before registering and returning it to the applicant. The OPG are currently taking approximately 20 weeks to register an LPA.

11. Can an LPA be based outside of the UK?

An LPA is specific to each jurisdiction. If you hold assets in the UK then an LPA should be put in place in England and Wales. However, if you have assets in another country, you should seek local advice as to what appropriate document should be put in place.

12. Do your attorneys need to be based in the UK?

They do not have to be. You can appoint attorneys who live in another country, but it is helpful if you have at least one attorney based in the UK which might make the administration of your affairs easier.

13. Preferences and instructions

In each type of LPA you can include:

  • Preferences – non-binding wishes to your attorneys
  • Instructions – which are legally binding on your attorneys

Both preferences and instructions can limit how your LPA can be used and what third parties may require when acting on your attorneys’ instructions. As such it is very important to be careful with any such wording and you may wish to seek legal advice as to appropriate preferences or instructions to include based on your circumstances and wishes.

This material does not give a full statement of the law. It is intended for guidance only and is not a substitute for professional advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting can be accepted by Russell-Cooke LLP or Comfort Care At Home Ltd.

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KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR MAKING A WILL

Expert Solicitors Answer Burning Questions About Estate Planning




1. What is a will?

A will is a document you can put in place to decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death.

2. When is it the right time to make a will?

Every adult should consider making a will if they hold assets in their own name.

Your will should then be reviewed every 3-5 years or upon certain life events, such as marriage or divorce, having children or a change in assets.

Marriage actually revokes a will and so on the lead-up to the big day, you should seek advice about reviewing your will.

3. Is a will legally binding?

A general power of attorney is only effective whilst the donor has capacity and is usually limited to specific item or task (e.g. sale of property or a company), whereas an LPA lasts beyond the donor losing capacity and is wider reaching in regards to the type of decisions being made.

4. What happens if I don’t have a will?

If you do not have a valid will in place there is a set statutory procedure, called ‘the intestacy rules’, which govern how your assets are distributed. The rules are rigid and may not be suitable for everyone.

For example, there is no such thing as a common law spouse and so an unmarried partner or cohabitee will not inherit under the intestacy rules.

Or if you are married with children, your spouse is only entitled to personal possessions and a statutory legacy (which is currently £322,000). Any assets in excess of this are then divided between your spouse and children who will inherit upon attaining the age of 18. This may not be appropriate in the circumstances as it limits what your spouse may inherit and your children could receive a large sum of money at a young age.

Making a will can help manage how loved ones inherit in the future.

5. What should I think about when making a will?

There are a number of things to consider when making a will including:

  • Who you would like to appoint as your executor to administer your estate and carry out your wishes? Your executor can be your spouse or partner, children, another family member, or a trusted friend. You can appoint someone who will also benefit under your will, for example, your spouse or children. If you do not have a person you can appoint, you may wish to consider appointing a professional, such as a solicitor or accountant.
  • Who you would appoint as a guardian for any minor children or others you have parental responsibility for?
  • What assets do you have and who you would like to inherit, such as family, friends or charities? Are there gifts of personal possessions or cash legacies you would like to make?

6. Can an attorney change your will?

In essence, no. The testator makes their will and if valid, it is binding. If the testator made a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in their lifetime, the person appointed as their attorney does not have the power under the LPA to change the testator’s will.

This material does not give a full statement of the law. It is intended for guidance only and is not a substitute for professional advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting can be accepted by Russell-Cooke LLP or Comfort Care At Home Ltd.

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DEMENTIA, BATHING & SHOWERING: CHALLENGES & TIPS

For people diagnosed with dementia, the everyday tasks that we take for granted can become a real challenge. Take showering for example: dementia can cause a person to experience a range of sensory conditions, such as hypersensitivity to sound or touch. This can make the experience of showering incredibly unpleasant, with the sound and feel of water causing significant distress.

elderly couple sitting the sofa together

Here are just a few of the challenges that people with dementia may face when it comes to taking a shower:

Discomfort with the sound of running water: For some people with dementia, the sound of running water can be incredibly disorienting and distressing. This can make it difficult for them to feel comfortable taking a shower, and can lead to resistance or refusal.

Sensitivity to temperature: As we age, our skin becomes thinner and more sensitive to temperature. This can make the sensation of warm water on the skin uncomfortable or even painful for some people with dementia. This can lead to resistance to showering, or to a preference for showers that are cooler than what they need for hygiene purposes.

Fear of falling: Dementia can cause a range of physical challenges, including a greater risk of falls. For people who are afraid of falling in the shower, the experience of getting clean can be incredibly stressful. This can lead to avoidance of showering altogether, or to a preference for bathing or sponge baths.

Confusion or forgetfulness: Dementia can cause confusion and forgetfulness, which can make it difficult for a person to know how to take a shower, or to remember the steps involved in getting clean. This can make the experience of showering frustrating or frightening, and can cause a person to avoid it altogether.

If you are caring for someone with dementia, it’s important to be patient and be mindful of how they might be feeling when it comes to showering.

Here are a few tips that we’ve found can help:

1. Try to create a calming environment: For some people with dementia, a calming environment can help them feel more comfortable with the idea of taking a shower. This could involve playing soothing music, lighting candles, or using aromatherapy to create a relaxing atmosphere.

2. Use a shower chair or stool: If a person with dementia is afraid of falling, a shower chair or stool can help them feel more secure and alleviate their fear. These types tools can also make it easier for a carer or loved one to help with bathing activity.

3. Be aware of water temperature: Make sure the water is not too hot and be mindful of how the individual feels both before, during and after the shower. If they complain of feeling cold, make sure the room is warm enough for them too.

4. Consider alternatives: If a person with dementia is resistant to showering, consider alternatives like sponge baths, bath wipes, dry shampoos, waterless shampoos and body wash. These may not be as effective as a full shower, but they can help maintain hygiene and avoid stress in a worse case scenario.

In the end, the challenges of showering for people with dementia can be overcome with patience, understanding, and a bit of creativity. It’s important to focus on the person’s comfort and well-being, rather than trying to enforce a specific hygiene routine. By being patient and flexible, care professionals can help make showering a more tolerable experience for everyone involved.

If your loved one is suffering from dementia and your like to speak to an experience care professional about the support available, please feel free to give us a call on 020 8610 9778 or email at info@comfortcareathome.co.uk.

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HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF SOMEONE WITH PARKINSON’S DISEASE

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the brain’s ability to control movement. People with Parkinson’s disease may experience a range of challenges, including difficulty managing personal care activities, such as toileting, bathing, and grooming that we typically take for granted.

elderly lady coming down her stairs with the help from her dedicated care and support worker.

Toileting:

One of the most common challenges of personal care for someone with Parkinson’s disease is difficulty going to the toilet. Parkinson’s can cause stiffness, tremors, and slowness in movement, which can make it difficult to get to the bathroom in time. Additionally, the disease can affect continence, leading to urinary or fecal incontinence.

If your loved one is experiencing similar challenges, we’ve put together a collection of strategies for you to try to mitigate the symptoms:

1. Establish a schedule: Having a regular toileting schedule can help prevent accidents. Try to use the bathroom at regular intervals throughout the day, such as every two hours for example.

2. Use adaptive devices: There are a variety of adaptive devices that can help make toileting easier for people with Parkinson’s disease, such as raised toilet seats, grab bars, and toilet frames.

3. Use incontinence products: If continence is an issue, consider using incontinence products such as absorbent pads or briefs to manage accidents.

4. The use of waterless body soaps and shampoo may help. These products can be used when sitting on a bed or bring bedridden. They eliminate the need to transfer to the bathroom or the need for water, which can get messy outside of the bathroom. 

Bathing:

Another challenge around personal care for individuals with Parkinson’s disease is bathing. Parkinson’s typically affects balance and coordination, making it difficult to manoeuvre around the bathtub or shower.

Our team of Care Professionals have put together some strategies to help make bathing and showering easier for your loved one:

1. Use a shower bench or chair: Using a shower or bath bench can provide additional stability and support while bathing.

2. Use a handheld showerhead: A handheld showerhead can provide additional flexibility and control, allowing individuals to direct water where it is most needed.

3. Modify the bathroom: Make modifications to the bathroom to make it safer and more accessible. This can include installing grab bars, using non-slip mats, and reducing clutter.

Grooming:

Finally, grooming can also be a challenge for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Fine motor coordination are often affected by the disease, making everyday tasks such as brushing teeth or combing hair more difficult.

Here are a few ideas we found to help Parkinson’s sufferers with their grooming:

1. Use adaptive devices: There are specialized devices available for individuals with Parkinson’s disease that can help with grooming tasks, such as electric toothbrushes or easy-grip hairbrushes.

2. Simplify grooming routines: Simplifying grooming routines can make them more manageable. For example, using dry shampoo instead of washing hair every day, or using pre-moistened wipes instead of a traditional washcloth.

3. Seek assistance: There’s no shame in asking for help. Consider enlisting the help of a caregiver or loved one for certain grooming tasks, especially if they become too difficult to manage independently.

Parkinson’s disease is a distressing disease that makes many of the everyday tasks we all take for granted really challenging. However, there are measures you can undertake to help make these activities more manageable and less stressful. We’ve outlined some in the article above; however, there are others out there.  Make sure you are taking advantage of the variety of new adaptive devices coming onto the market. Likewise, making modifications to your loved one’s environment can have a massive positive impact. And finally, don’t underestimate the important of seeking assistance from others; whether that is friends and family or professional carers. By being proactive and seeking solutions to these challenges, individuals with Parkinson’s disease can maintain their independence and quality of life for far longer.

For more information Parkinson’s Disease check out the Parkinson’s UK website or get in touch and speak to one of our friendly team to discover how we can help support you or your loved one. Call us on 020 8610 9778 or email at info@comfortcareathome.co.uk.