Legal Advice – How solicitors can help
A solicitor can give you impartial advice about wills, making gifts, estate planning and Powers of Attorney. Some can also offer guidance on immediate and long-term care plans, ensuring (if applicable) the NHS has made the correct contribution to your fees.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) allow you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions about your personal welfare, including healthcare and consent to medical treatment, and/or your property and financial affairs. An LPA is only valid once registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. It allows for a person of your choice to make decisions on your behalf at a time when you may be unable to.
The Court of Protection can issue Orders directing the management of a person’s property and financial affairs if they are incapable of managing their own affairs should they not have a LPA. The Court procedure is presently very slow and the fees are quite expensive so preparing a LPA is always advisable, providing you have somebody sufficiently trustworthy to appoint as your attorney.
An advance directive allows you to communicate your wishes in respect of future medical treatment but it is not legally binding. You may instead wish to make a living will, properly known as an ‘advance decision’ setting out treatment that you do not want to receive in specified circumstances, which would legally have to be followed, even if you die as a result.
Any proposed Gift out of your estate needs careful consideration of the benefits, risks and implications, particularly on any future liability for care costs or tax liability Long-term care whether you remain in your own home or move into sheltered or residential care, you may qualify for financial assistance in the form of social care and NHS-funded care and welfare benefits.
If you don’t have your own solicitor, ask family or friends for their recommendations. Contact several firms, explain your situation and ask for an estimate of cost and an idea of time scales involved. Many firms will make home visits if necessary and will adapt their communications to meet your needs. It’s important to find a solicitor who specialises in this area of the law. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau offers an advice service and will be able to recommend solicitors in your area.