Lawyer supports campaign in light of looming incapacity crisis

A Shropshire lawyer has backed a national campaign calling for more people to tackle the taboos around end of life planning after a new survey revealed 98 per cent of people in the West Midlands are leaving important health and welfare decisions to chance.

Margaret Rowe, a Partner in the Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning team at law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, is supporting calls from SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) for people to take action in order to prevent an incapacity crisis.

The report from SFE and independent think tank, Centre for Future Studies, revealed that although 71 per cent would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf in the event of mental incapacity, 81 per cent of people haven’t discussed end of life medical and care wishes and 36 per cent admit to having made no provisions at all, such as a will, Lasting Power of Attorney, pension or funeral plan.

In response, a coalition of organisations, led by SFE - the specialist organisation that connects older and vulnerable clients with legal experts in older client law – is encouraging more people to plan ahead, especially in relation to health and care preferences.

There are currently 928,000 Health and Welfare LPAs registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) across England and Wales, compared to the 12.8 million people over the age of 65 who run the risk of developing dementia – a difference of nearly 93 per cent.

The forecast shows the disparity will continue, leaving millions in limbo. By 2025, it’s calculated that 15.2 million people will be at risk of mental incapacity and it’s estimated that 2.2 million health and welfare LPAs will be in place. This shows that the health and welfare wishes of 13 million people will not be taken into account.

Margaret explained: “Without the necessary provisions in place, potential life-changing medical and care decisions can be taken away from loved ones.

“The report reinforced the common misconception that many people (71 per cent) incorrectly believe that their next of kin can specify what they would have wanted if they are no longer able to.

“That’s just not true and it’s important that people have these conversations before it’s too late. The only way to avoid this is to think about what you’d want if you were to lose capacity, speak to loved ones about it, and get a health and welfare LPA in place.

“SFE lawyers are experienced in guiding people through this and its important to get proper legal advice to ensure your wishes are carried out.”

The national campaign is being supported by fellow FBC Manby Bowdler SFE members including Senior Associate Graham Fuller and Associate Carina Kervin.

Carina added: “With an ageing population, more and more people are likely to find themselves in the position of needing care and a health and welfare LPA can set out exactly how you wish to be looked after and who can make decisions on your behalf.

“Being prepared is empowering and means important personal and subjective decisions about your health and care won’t be left in the hands of strangers.”

 

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