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20 September 2016

In the last few years, the scale of the problem posed by dementia has become all too clear. According to the most recent statistics, some 800,000 men and women are currently afflicted by the condition, and that number is set to double within the next few decades.

Unsurprisingly, more people are making sensible arrangements should they also lose the capacity to manage their own affairs.

They are making documents giving nominated individuals what is known as Lasting Power of Attorney (or LPAs, for short), allowing decisions to be made on their behalf either about their property and finances or their health and welfare – or, in fact, both. However, such has been the popularity of LPAs that the Office for the Public Guardian (OPG), the body charged with registering them, has admitted struggling to cope.

Figures which my colleagues and I have uncovered show that the number of LPAs has almost doubled in the last two years.

The OPG has claimed that the demand for the documents has outstripped its “ageing technology” and resulted in it taking longer than planned to process them.

As we have discovered, that has resulted in cases in which people have made LPAs setting out their intentions to refuse life-prolonging treatment only to be treated against their wishes. It’s a topic which I’ve spoken to the Daily Telegraph about.

Despite such difficulties, though, there are distinct benefits to making an LPA or ‘living Will’ as they have become known.

They enable someone to have a say in what should happen to them even if they are prevented from exercising full control because of a deterioration in their health.

I have been advising those making LPAs to inform their GPs and hospital consultants so that the documents become part of their medical record, thereby avoiding the potential for confusion and complication.

 

Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.

Click here to return to the main Wills area.

 

20 September 2016

Just over a week has passed since the sudden death of the musical pop icon Prince Rogers Nelson – commonly known as ‘Prince’- and a number of questions have emanated from his death, such as the Purple Rain star’s suspected prior health issues and the cause of his shock passing.

However, one question which resonates most prominently and holds importance over any other centres around the confirmed reports that Prince did not leave a Will and specifically who will inherit his vast fortune, estimated to be worth in the region of $800,000.00 (£551,781.00).

This net worth amount is expected to grow by millions of dollars with the increase in sales of Prince’s music and merchandise following his death. A large catalogue of unreleased music is expected to add to the sizable fortune.

Prince was one of relatively few recording artists to have possessed ownership of his master recordings and his own music publishing and therefore the heir(s) to his fortune will benefit from the future sales of his already issued music.

According to Minnesota law when an unmarried person with no children who dies without a Will, the parents, grandparents and siblings of the deceased inherit their wealth. Prince was pre-deceased by his parents, and half-brother Duane Nelson. He was married and divorced twice and leaves no children behind. It is believed his sister, Tyka Nelson, is his only living full blooded relative. The singer also has five living half-siblings and under Minnesota law surviving half-siblings are treated the same as full siblings, raising the possibility of a drawn-out family battle.

There are rumours that Prince wanted to leave his entire estate to the Jehovah Witnesses. However, to successfully contest the probate of an estate, it must be proved that the plaintiff is entitled to the entire or a portion of the estate by demonstrating that the deceased’s final, express intent was to bequeath what is claimed to the plaintiff. Only by producing a Will, or some other operative legal document, that names the plaintiff as a beneficiary can the plaintiff prove that he or she is entitled to the estate. The deceased’s alleged intent needs to be documented and verifiable.

Tyka has recently filed probate documents with the Carver County District Court in Minnesota, asking the court to name an affiliate of the Bremer Bank in St. Cloud, Minn., as the special administrator, saying that the bank had provided financial services to Prince and had knowledge of his business affairs. What is interesting to note is that the five half-siblings are listed as heirs to Prince’s estate.

Whether Prince intended to leave his estate to his sister and 5 half-siblings equally is a question we will never really know the answer to, one which highlights the importance of executing a valid Will to ensure the administration of your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes.

 

Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.

Click here to return to the main Wills area.

 

20 July 2016

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for property and financial affairs is a document which allows you to appoint someone to make certain financial decisions on your behalf. This includes paying bills, managing bank accounts and selling your property, should there ever be a time when you are physically or mentally unable to do so yourself.

It is impossible to know whether you, your partner or a parent will ever be in a position to need someone to act for you, but the consequences of being in that position and being unprepared are so potentially devastating that preparation is imperative.

The One Show recently highlighted a situation in which a 42 year old man was injured in a jet ski accident which left him in a coma for three years. He had no Power of Attorney, which meant that his wife had to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as his Deputy. This application can cost thousands of pounds and can take many months.

Perhaps a more common situation is that of a married couple, living in a house that is jointly owned. If one spouse loses capacity through a stroke or dementia and moves into a residential home, the other may not be able to afford to remain in the house and may wish to sell to buy a smaller property. Not only will it be necessary to make an application for a Deputy for their spouse, but it will also be necessary to make a separate application to the Court to enable the property to be sold. Both applications could have been completely avoided by having a Power of Attorney in place.

An LPA is therefore vital . Think of it as a one off insurance premium. Once done it can simply be put away and forgotten, but you can rest assured in the knowledge that you have done all that it is possible to do to protect yourself and your family against any unforeseen future problems.

 

Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.

Click here to return to the main Wills area.

 

20 July 2016

Last year, the government decided that its April 2016 flagship policy to cap care costs will now face a four-year delay until 2020, stating that it cannot afford to make "expensive new commitments like this" at a time of austerity.

In consideration of the one in ten people who enter the care system and incur costs over £100,000, the government had promised that care fees would be limited to £72,000 for each person in a care home.

The decision to delay the care cost cap affects those who are already in a care home as well as those who will need such care over the next five years. Each group potentially faces having to give up everything they have worked for at a time which is already incredibly difficult for them and their families. A cap on care costs might have offered some comfort at this difficult time.

Current residents of care homes, in particular, will now have to pay an additional five years' worth of fees before their costs count towards anything.

While an experienced lawyer cannot fulfil the promise the Conservatives made to ensure that "no one has to sell their home" to pay for their care, they can help by protecting assets from potential liability of care home fees through careful planning.

 

Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.

Click here to return to the main Wills area.

 

20 July 2016

There has recently been a landmark decision in the High Court regarding the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment for a terminally ill person.

The patient's daughter made an application to cease artificial feeding and hydration, on the basis that her mother was in the end stages of multiple sclerosis, could only move her eyes, and was described by medical experts as being minimally conscious.

The judge agreed that in consideration of the way the woman had lived her life and to preserve her dignity, she would have wanted treatment to cease. Evidence was received by the Court from friends, relatives and medical experts. The Official Solicitor who was appointed to represent the patient's interests withdrew their opposition to the application.

An important distinction should be drawn between this withdrawal of life sustaining treatment, and assisted suicide. The withdrawal of life sustaining treatment is classed as omitting to treat someone whereas assisted suicide is taking a positive step to bring someone's life to an end (for example, administering a drug which would result in death). Assisted suicide is still unlawful.

Situations such as these will continue to be dealt with by the Court on a case by case basis, taking account of each patient's quality of life and ability to benefit from the continuation of treatment.

However, if the patient had made a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare then their Attorney could have been given the power to make decisions in relation to life sustaining treatment, and a court application would not have been needed.

 

Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.

Click here to return to the main Wills area.

 

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