Elderly Man ND86624A report published by the organisation Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) has warned that the UK is heading for an “incapacity crisis” with a wide gap between the rising number of people likely to lose capacity and the relatively small number who have arranged a health and welfare lasting power of attorney.

The report shows that the number of people diagnosed with dementia in the UK increased by more than 50 per cent between approximately 2005 and 2017 and now stands at 540,000. When undiagnosed cases are added in, the number is estimated to be much higher and is predicted to rise rapidly in the next decade.  It is said that of the 12.8 million British residents currently over the age of 65, one in 14 will develop dementia.

The principal concern of the report is not the financial affairs of people who lose capacity, but their future care arrangements. The Centre for Future Studies who participated in the report found that only 928,000 health and welfare lasting powers of attorneys have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian in England and Wales. The implication, it says, is that there are a large number of people at significant risk of dementia who have not made proper arrangements for their care in old age.

The report found that, largely because people are unaware of the risks, there is a “huge disparity between our wishes and what will happen in reality”. The SFE is calling for a significant increase in the take-up of health and welfare powers of attorney and says that the “taboo around medical decisions and end of life care needs to be broken”.   

“Nothing offers more protection and control than putting in place a health and welfare power of attorney” says the SFE. This eliminates doubt and gives legal validity to a person’s choices. It recommends that Health and welfare powers of attorney should be “a topic of discussion around any dinner table”! 

Fitzhugh Gates Solicitors Comment

We wholeheartedly agree with the SFE that Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney (H&W LPA) are very important and, despite that, their take-up is low.  Clients should be aware that H&W LPA’s can only be used by the attorneys to take decisions on their behalf if they lack capacity to make the decision themselves. 

Chris Thomas - Partner

Fitzhugh Gates offers reduced rates to clients when they make more than one LPA or make an LPA at the same time as making a will. Please ask us for a fixed fee quote.

Important guidance on articles published by Fitzhugh Gates Solicitors

Articles published through this website contain only general advice and are not intended as professional counsel and should not be used as such.

If you require specific advice on a particular issue or problem highlighted by this article, then please contact Fitzhugh Gates, the Solicitors for Brighton and Hove and Shoreham-by-Sea. 

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