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Planning For Your Future

18th January 2016

A North East solicitor who specialises in supporting the elderly to get their affairs in order has sounded a warning after a new report revealed a worrying lack of planning by people in the region over their future care, health, housing and assets.

People in the North East have one of the lowest rates of planning for later life, the report by SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) has revealed.

A survey found that 87 per cent of people in the region are currently living with no control over important decisions that could have a significant impact on their later years in the event of illness or accident.

Although 84 per cent of people say they want loved ones to make decisions on their behalf, only six per cent have created a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to enable this, according to the SFE, the national organisation representing legal professionals specialising in helping people plan for later life.

Lydia McCaslin, a specialist in Wills, Trusts and Probate with North East firm BHP Law and a full member of SFE, said the new year was the ideal time for people to take action to safeguard their wishes in the event of accidents or illness like dementia.

Lydia, who was one of the first lawyers in the country to gain the Older Client Care in Practice Award, said: “The report shows that a high percentage of people want a family member or friend to make important decisions on their behalf, and most people assume that if they suffer an illness or accident their next of kin will be responsible for vital decisions.

“The reality is starkly different – loved ones may not be able to make a decision on your behalf unless you have an LPA in place. Without an LPA, an individual’s affairs, such as their end-of-life wishes and health treatments, can be left in the hands of third party solicitors, social workers, medical doctors or the courts.”

People in the North East, however, are much more likely than people anywhere else in the country to use a solicitor to arrange their LPA.

Lydia added: “It’s really encouraging that people here are choosing a qualified solicitor over taking a gamble by using online resources, non-legal advisers or off-the-shelf kits. Others who have taken steps to plan ahead for later life may still be at risk due to poor quality legal advice and invalid documents.

“An LPA is by far the most powerful and important legal document an individual can have. If you have children, own a home or have views on your preferred health treatment, I urge people to go to an expert to get the right advice.”

People in the North East are better at planning for death, rather than later life with 43 per cent – the second highest rate in the country – having a Will in place.

Lydia can be contacted on 0191 384 0840.