As we will possibly live on until our 80s and beyond, and as that may involve coping with disability of one form or another, the need for consideration of support as we get older is ever more pertinent.

Readers will no doubt have heard the term “power of attorney”, but not many, we suspect, will have made the investment and appointed someone trusted to act as their representative if they become physically or mentally unable to look after themselves in old age.

If you did become infirm and unable to make sensible decisions about your health care or finances, and you had not appointed a lasting power of attorney (LPA), then management of health care and finances would pass to your doctors and the Court of Protection. Whilst these two outside-the-family institutions will no doubt try their best on your behalf, they may not do so in accordance with your wishes, or the wishes of your close family.

There are two types of LPA that will deal with:

1. Health and welfare, and

2. Property and financial affairs.

You can complete the forms to apply for the two types of LPA with the Public Guardian’s office, without professional assistance, but we suggest you invest in the required legal advice as part of a wider consideration of tax and inheritance issues.

LPAs, if properly considered, will give both you and your family a clearly defined structure to work within should you become incapacitated in old age. And as you would expect, you need to be able to demonstrate that you have the mental capacity to make you own decisions when you make an LPA.

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