Here at Onions & Davies, since coronavirus started to affect the country, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of Wills that we normally make for people.
A crisis like this can remind people of their mortality, and more and more people are realising that they should plan for what they would like to happen when they die.
That is still a good idea and our specialist team would be happy to help you, if this is what you want to do.
We have, however, not had a similar rise in the number of people making Lasting Powers of Attorney. This is surprising because they are equally as important.
Here are a couple of examples of recent cases that we have had, that illustrate this.
In the first, we received a telephone call from a man whose elderly Uncle had become ill with the virus, but had not died. He was already relatively frail, but able to live at home, and his Nephew managed his day to day income and expenditure, as his DWP Appointee.
The Uncle’s worsening health means that he now needs to go into care and there is a lot to have to arrange and organise.
DWP Appointeeship only covers dealing with state benefits, whereas now the Uncle is to have all his assets assessed as part of the care fees funding assessment process, discussions need to be had with the council and the care providers, a suitable care home for him to live in needs to be found, his house needs to be sold and his personal effects need to be dealt with. None of these things can be done by a DWP Appointee.
If the Uncle had made Lasting Powers of Attorney, both financial and healthcare, the Nephew could now get involved in all these aspects of his Uncle’s life, even while being socially distanced from him, and this would ease the burden on them both.
The second example is one of many similar situations that we are dealing with at the moment.
A lot of people informally help their elderly relatives or friends with their finances, in many ways. This quite often involves them going to visit them and helping them with telephone calls to utility companies, with applying for attendance allowance or similar benefits, liaising with a financial adviser, cleaners, gardeners, carers, and so on, collecting pension, getting cars and properties insured, etc.
In the current situation, it is so much harder for people to get together to help with those things.
With a Lasting Power of Attorney, all of those things can be done at a distance.
In making a Lasting Power of Attorney, you need to decide who you would like to help you with your finances and/or your healthcare decisions; you can decide what power you want them to have and how and when they should exercise it; and you can choose replacements should your first choice of people become unable to act for you.
It is possible to make Lasting Powers of Attorney even in the current situation and we at Onions & Davies can help you find the best way of doing so.
The whole process of getting a Lasting Power of Attorney made and registered, so that it can be used, is currently taking around three months, but if there is a need for someone to act for you sooner than that, then we can advise you on how that can be done.