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More 'Wish to Die' Than Have Care Costs Reduce Children's Inheritance
An increasing number of middle-aged parents have declared that they would rather die than see excessive care home fees eat into their children’s inheritance.
One of the country’s leading law firms has reported a rise in the number of men and women choosing to adopt Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) documents.
The documents allow them to appoint a representative to execute their wishes as to how they might be treated should they become so ill as to lose the capacity to discuss the matter with medical professionals themselves.
Paul Gotch, a Private Client lawyer with JMW Solicitors, said that in “almost every one” of the more than 100 LPA documents now handled by his firm each year, clients raised concerns about the cost of care provision and its impact on their finances.
He added that many individuals had stated a wish not to remain infirm and dependent on healthcare because it would reduce the size of their estates.
“The picture created by many clients is a stark one and represents something of a step change in appreciation of the role which LPAs can play.
“People are now not only more aware of what LPAs are and more willing to adopt such a document when we raise it with them.
“More often than not, they have already thought through their options by the time that they come to see us and are keen to draw up LPAs covering both their finances and their health and welfare.
“Without doubt, the most common theme in discussions is a desire to refuse prospective treatment should they become incapacitated because they realise how the costs of care could drastically affect the amounts which they can pass on to their families.
“It amounts to a declaration that they would rather end their lives than become a financial burden to their loved ones.”
Since the terms of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 came into effect two years later, individuals have been able to nominate specific others to manage their affairs under two types of LPA – one governing finance and property, the other relating to their health and welfare.
Mr Gotch said that nearly 90 per cent of clients now chose to adopt both documents, compared with only 15 per cent three years ago.
Although awareness of LPAs had increased across various age groups, he described how most were adopted by men and women of “middle and retirement age” because younger couples did not consider them to be an immediate priority.
Mr Gotch outlined how personal experience of dealing with a family member suffering from a serious and debilitating condition, such as dementia, was continuing to prove the key factor in whether people chose to draw up an LPA.
Even though many clients were forthright in setting out their intentions to curtail life-prolonging treatment to increase the amounts which they might leave to children, in particular, Mr Gotch added that some incorrectly believed that LPAs might help them determine how to end their lives.
“Despite the fact that so many of the adult population do not have a will, they are still more popular than LPAs, although that situation is changing.
“They are, of course, very different documents. Whereas a will deals with the distribution of an estate after someone has died, an LPA appoints an individual to manage a person’s affairs during their lifetime.
“Given that an LPA can affect the personal circumstances of someone who is still alive, many recognise how useful they can be.
“We occasionally have to make clear that whilst a health and welfare LPA allows people to declare that they don’t wish to be resuscitated, it is not a licence for assisted suicide.
“Myself and my colleagues have actually had to caution people who misconstrue an LPA as offering help to die, something which it expressly does not.”
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