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15th May 2020

How coronavirus has shown why we all need to have those “difficult conversations”

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One thing that the coronavirus has taught us is that no one knows what’s around the corner, so it is important for us all to have our affairs in order. Whilst most of us recognise the importance of having a Will, many don’t apply the same value on a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

A Lasting Power of Attorney, or Power of Attorney in Scotland, is a legal document where you choose someone to act on your behalf if you are physically or mentally incapacitated. Many are under the misconception that LPAs are only for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, the current situation has demonstrated why everyone should have one… just in case.

We have sadly heard many accounts of people needing to be put on a ventilator as a result of the coronavirus, the Prime Minister being a very public example. Clearly, during this time, a person is unable to communicate. This is where an LPA would come into play.

Another, less extreme example is happening right now. People with lung cancer are being advised to shield during the pandemic. We do not know how long this is going to be for, which places physical restrictions on a person.

Without a Power of Attorney in place, nobody has the automatic right or ability to take charge of your finances. This includes your spouse or partner, even if you have a joint account. This could mean critical bills, such as the mortgage, council tax or energy bills, could go unpaid. 

There is then your health and wellbeing to consider. You may have strong views. You may, depending on your personal situation, feel you don’t want to go into hospital or be put on a ventilator if you became ill with the virus. There may also be questions that arise about your ongoing treatment for lung cancer.

In these instances, you would have needed to have appointed a Health and Welfare attorney and, most importantly, have had those difficult conversations so they know your wishes.

The great British taboo

These conversations are never going to be easy. There may be tears. There may even be anger as we, or our loved ones, are faced with the unthinkable.

However, as the whole world is now faced with great uncertainty, we must all let our people know our wishes about potential treatment and even our wishes after death now. We should also make them aware of where important documentation, such as our Will, can be found.

Being practical, I have thought about what might happen if I caught the virus. My partner keeps insisting I write where all my paperwork relating to will and bank account is, as he fears for my safety. I’ve started sifting and shredding unnecessary outdated paperwork. 

Janette

After these conversations, you are then best placed to choose someone you trust to either look after your finances or make decisions on your behalf. They can only use it if you have registered it and you have given them authority to do so.

An LPA can be used on a temporary or permanent basis so, if you have mental capacity to do so, you can take back control at any time.

Making an LPA

You can use https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney to arrange an LPA yourself for free (not including registration). However, if you do not get everything completed, signed and dated in the right order, it will not be valid.

We have partnered with McClure Solicitors who offer a discounted LPA service so our patients and supporters can rest a little easier in the knowledge things are in order – whatever lies ahead.

Click here for more information about Lasting Powers of Attorney and about how you can take advantage of McClure Solicitors discounted service.