If you, or someone you know, loses capacity, the consequences can be serious and far-reaching, both emotionally and financially, without appropriate measures in place. In this video, our elder law specialists from our trust, estate and inheritance disputes team explain the steps you can take now, whilst you have capacity, to protect your finances and personal affairs.
Note: We have provided a transcript of the video if you are unable to listen to the audio. This transcript is generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers and may contain errors.
Stephen Richards (00:10): When someone no longer has capacity to look after their affairs themselves, the consequences can be serious and far-reaching. Not just for themsleves, but also for their family, friends, and those that know them. The statistics are striking.
Deborah Nicholls-Carr (00:26): People are living longer than ever. The 85+ age group is the fastest growing. It's set to double by 2041 to 3.2 million, and will treble by 2066. In the UK, dementia affects 1 in 14 people over the age of 65, and 1 in 6 over the age of 80.
Stephen Richards (00:44): But the key thing is this is not just about age. Incapacity can strike you regardless of your station in life or your age. For example, you might have an accident which means that actually you no longer have capacity.
Deborah Nicholls-Carr (00:58): So what can you do about this? The key point is to put in place a power of attorney before problems arise, so that you can protect your interests when you no longer have capacity to do so yourself.
Stephen Richards (01:09): That is all well and good, but what if incapacity strikes, and you don't have an attorney in place? The good news is that in the UK you can apply for someone called a 'deputy' to be appointed. That deputy may be a family member, it may be a friend, it may be an independent professional.
Deborah Nicholls-Carr (01:27): We can help guide you through the process and help you decide what powers you want to give to your attorneys and any restrictions you want to place on their powers to manage your assets.
Protecting international interests
Stephen Richards (01:41): Increasingly, people don't just live, work, and play in one country, but they're often in lots of different countries. Therefore, it's important not just to look at what will occur in the UK, but to have a global perspective, both in terms of the plans that are made, but also in terms of how your affairs and finances can be protected in different places once you've lost capacity.
What can you do about financial abuse?
Deborah Nicholls-Carr (02:12): Financial abuse is unfortunately increasingly common. It can be catastrophic, both emotionally and financially for the person affected, and their families. The abuse is often perpetrated by someone known to the abused, such as a neighbour, care-giver or a family member who takes advantage of cognitive impairment or decline. Many families come to us when they suspect that something's happened but they don't who the full extend of it and they don't know what to do next, but we can help.
Stephen Richards (02:41): Often families want to deal with issues sensitively and consensually, but yet they also want to know what happens and how they can hold the perpetrators to account. It is there that the court can be a particularly helpful mechanism. For example, it may be necessary to apply for a freezing injunction, or it may be that you go to court for a new will to be made or for certain steps to be authorised, such as making gifts. But the important point, thinking about all that we've talked about, is that while someone has capacity to do so they take steps now, thinking about the future, so that they can avoid some of the problems we've been discussing.