Carers Week 2020

Carers Week 2020: Planning ahead to
ease the pressure on carers

11 June 2020

As part of Carers Week 2020, my colleagues have shared their personal experiences of selfless caring for relatives whilst juggling their everyday lives. They are heroes in my view and this week is about making caring visible and appreciating all the carers who selflessly put others ahead of themselves. This is a big reality for many people in England and Wales and especially during the COVID-19 lockdown and pandemic, where many have had to assume carer responsibilities by necessity.
 

Carers are often unpaid relatives and/or close family friends; they can face practical problems such as not being able to speak to third parties on behalf of the person for whom they are caring and it can be difficult to access that person’s funds without legal authority. These practical issues can unnecessarily add more stress and challenges to the carer’s role, which should otherwise be focused on caring. To help alleviate this pressure, it’s important for anyone to look at ways they may be able to plan for and organise their financial affairs to help make these situations better for those who may need to care for them. Lasting Powers of Attorney are one of the tools you can put in place to plan ahead.

What are Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPAs”)?

You can give someone authority to act on your behalf via a general power of attorney. However, this ceases to have effect if you lose capacity.

An LPA is more effective as this will continue even if you lose capacity. There are two types of LPAs:

  1. health and care
  2. property and affairs

The health and care LPA is important as you can specify any health wishes you may have and also give your attorney the authority to agree or disagree to life sustaining treatment on your behalf. It also gives the attorney the power to decide on residential and care issues, but this only takes effect once registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”) and only if you have lost capacity to make such decisions yourself.

A property and affairs LPA gives your attorney the power to use your funds in your best interests, e.g. buying equipment and paying bills, and third parties will be able to speak to your attorney on your behalf. Once registered with the OPG, this LPA can be used with your consent even if you still have capacity, which can be useful if you cannot physically move as your attorney will be able to conduct your financial affairs on your behalf. There is a registration fee and those on low incomes can apply for an exemption or a reduction of the entire fee.

LPAs can be a critical tool, which can help reduce the stress carers feel and the practical challenges they face on a daily basis when looking after a loved one.

Further information

If you have any questions about Powers of Attorney, please see here or contact a member of our private client team.

To find out more about Carers Week 2020 and how you can take part and help make caring visible, please see here.

See also our previous Carers Week blogs:

About the author

Sameena Munir an Associate in the Private Client team. She has a Court of Protection focus, supporting property and financial affairs deputies. She works closely with clients who lack capacity, with a particular specialism of cerebral palsy and severe brain injury cases. She prepares statutory will and gift applications to the Court, and creates personal injury trusts. She also advises on lasting powers of attorney and probate matters.

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We welcome views and opinions about the issues raised in this blog. Should you require specific advice in relation to personal circumstances, please use the form on the contact page.

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