We tend to think time is on our side. There are many things we intend to do but it will be fine to leave it for another day. That leaky tap or missing roof tile can all be dealt with later. Leave it too long though and you’re tackling a flood instead.
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This is, perhaps, particularly the case for our legal affairs. We may know that measures such as Power of Attorney are vital but we put off arranging them until we actually need them.
But with winter taking hold the need for legal protections has never been more urgent.
Why now is the time to act on Power of Attorney
Winter is the most dangerous time of the year
Dark nights, icy pavements and freezing temperatures combine to make this a more perilous time of year. According to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, hospital bed occupancy tends to rise over the winter months , as viruses spread more freely. A slip, a fall or a nasty bug could easily see you incapacitated and without a POA you could face a range of problems.
Tony Marchi, principal at ILAWS Scotland says: “People think POA is only for someone with dementia. It’s really not. An accident or illness is enough to have someone incapacitated.”
Without it you can be left helpless
Tony adds: “These days you can do nothing without authority. Whereas 20 years ago you could pay a care bill from your wife’s bank account, you just cannot do these things these days. You can be in hospital and you can’t even change your TV package without authority.”
Problems you could face include doctors making your medical decisions without the consent of your loved ones and in some cases medics won’t administer treatment if there is any risk to you, even if your spouse or children wishes them to do so.
The issue is so important that NHS Highland recently ran a campaign urging people to ensure they have POA in place. In a statement, it said: “Granting a Power of Attorney to enable a family member or friend to make decisions for them when they no longer have the mental capacity to do so themselves is as important as making a will.
“Failure to do so can result in long delays in accessing the necessary services and may mean the individual has to stay in hospital, when they no longer need to be there for clinical reasons.”
Putting it off will only create more problems
If you don’t arrange POA now when you are fit and able, it might be too late to arrange one if you become incapacitated. The average waiting time for a Power of Attorney can take several months.
ILAWS is, for a limited time only, arranging Power of Attorneys for a special price of £199 (plus £85 Scottish Court registration fee). It’s a one-off cost too, as the fee applies to the granter of the Power of Attorney and not the one receiving it. So if you grant POA to five people it will cost the same as for one.
The firm offers a no-obligation, free consultation, if you decide it’s not for you then it won’t cost you a penny. But it’s important to act now if you want to take advantage of this offer.
Tony adds: “We’ve got a lot of demand at the moment and spaces are filling up. We can also only offer this for a short time longer and prices will have to rise soon.”
Think about other legal protections too
It’s also important over winter to think about what might happen if a sudden deterioration in your health means you go into care. At the moment the threshold for council support with care home fees is having assets of £32,750 or less and your property counts towards that. Losing your home is a real threat but legal measures such as a Protected Property Trust or a Transfer can help you avoid this.
Tony continues: “You’ve paid national insurance all your life to make sure you’re cared for in old age but the government can’t fully cover care costs and you can end up being stripped of your assets. It so important to take the steps to avoid these things now.”
At the end of the day, having these legal precautions is about peace of mind. So don’t leave it too late this winter. Now’s the time to act, so you’re protected no matter what happens.
If you would like to arrange a Will, Power of Attorney, a Trust or a Transfer visit ILAWS’ website.