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Posts Tagged ‘Lasting Power of Attorney’

We all think “it’ll never happen to me” but do you suppose it ever occurred to the super fit Andrew Marr that he was heading for a stroke, one brought on, incidentally, by extreme exercise? And could anyone fail to see the tragic irony of Michael Schumacher sustaining a serious head injury as a result of a freak accident while on a family skiing holiday having managed to survive, unscathed, throughout his long and illustrious career in Formula One? Would anyone ever have predicted that? And just this week, we’ve had the death of the young Australian cricketer, Phillip Hughes, who went out to play a game of cricket, like he had hundreds of times before, and who then, sadly, never made it home again.

The thing is, sudden illness or accidents can strike any one of us at any time, be it on the ski slopes, at home, at work, playing sport, in our cars or just on the street. Yes, it’s unlikely but it’s not impossible so burying our heads in the sand about it isn’t realistic and it’s certainly not helpful for those who rely on the ongoing operation of our businesses to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables.

So if you lost mental or physical capacity, either temporarily or permanently, would your business be able to keep running? Who would have the legal authority to access your bank account to pay your suppliers? Would your bills get paid? Who would authorize your payroll run? You may have arrangements in place for certain members of staff to sign off some payments but what are the limits of that arrangement? Does there come a point where, without your express authority or your signature, payments don’t get made and your business stops functioning?

If this is the case, and I’m guessing it is for most small businesses because we all need to protect our interests, how long could your business keep going without you? If your staff weren’t getting paid, how long could they afford to stick with you? Would your suppliers be willing or able to keep supplying you ‘on tick’ indefinitely? Would your landlord be happy to continue housing your business if he wasn’t receiving his rent payments? Would your husband/wife be able to access your business bank account in order to transfer any money needed to keep the domestic side of your life running smoothly?

If any of this sets off alarm bells then there is a simple solution: draw up a Lasting Power of Attorney restricted to the running of your business.

The alternative is to have all those processes and payments that do require your active involvement to be put on hold until your family or business partners can apply to the Court of Protection to have a Deputy appointed but this can take several months and is ultimately much more expensive than planning ahead and getting an LPA in place just in case. And what would happen in the meantime?

As small business owners ourselves we feel very passionately about this subject (we each have LPAs restricted to the running of our business making our co-directors our attorneys). So, to encourage other small business owners to take this issue off the back burner and be proactive in safeguarding the running of their businesses in 2015, from now until the end of March 2015, Lovingly Managed is offering a special rate of just £147 to draft a business specific LPA, including the completion of the registration documents. (In addition, there is a registration fee of £110 payable direct to the Office of the Public Guardian.)

If you would like to meet up to complete the forms then that’s great but we know you’re busy so we can do the whole thing over the phone at a time to suit you – even in the evening – or via email if that’s more convenient. It will take around 20-30 minutes. Once we are in possession of all the relevant information we will endeavour to have your LPA back to you for signatures within a week.

If you decide you would like to sort out LPAs for your personal situation, we will offer the same fee for one LPA (either Property and Financial Affairs or Health and Welfare) or £275 for both types. Please note that the registration fee is payable for each LPA registered. Don’t forget to reference this blog post when you contact us to make sure you benefit from this limited time offer. Visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lovingly-Managed/156617147716458?ref=hl, scroll down and click on the purple ‘Contact Us’ button on the left of the page to send us a message and telephone number and we will call you back within 24 hours to arrange a convenient time to meet in person or take your instructions over the phone.

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So, with the announcement that the Government is to allow MPs a free vote on Lord Falconer’s Bill introducing assisted suicide, legislation on this highly contentious issue moves a significant step closer.

Baroness Butler-Schloss, someone for whom I have enormous respect, feels this is a step too far. In an article in the Daily Telegraph (15/12/2013) she argues that “allowing doctors or others to give active assistance to people to end their lives would cross a vital legal boundary. Laws, like nation states, are more secure when their boundaries rest on natural frontiers,” she writes.

“The law that we have rests on just such a frontier. It rests on the principle that we do not involve ourselves in deliberately bringing about the deaths of others. Once we start making exceptions based on arbitrary criteria like terminal illness, that frontier becomes just a line in the sand, easily crossed and hard to defend. The law is there to protect us all. We tinker with it at our peril.”

However, the law as it currently stands doesn’t go far enough for certain individuals such as Jane Nicklinson, the widow of Tony Nicklinson, the “locked-in syndrome” sufferer who starved himself to death last year after a long battle for assisted suicide, Paul Lamb, a quadriplegic who describes his life as ‘unbearable’ and a man named only as Martin who also suffers from locked-in syndrome.  They are seeking to sweep aside a prohibition on assisted suicide contained in the Suicide Act, using human rights laws.

I can sympathise with arguments on both sides of this case and understand the genuine concerns of the Butler-Schloss camp. However, on balance, I think I’m more inclined to the side of those seeking the right to die. Maybe I’m just not cynical enough to believe that this will lead to an onslaught of doctors ending people’s lives for some arbitrary reason, be it their own or someone else’s.

What I find totally unhelpful in all of this is the attempt of some commentators to introduce a hysterical tone to the whole debate, such as the comments made by Wesley J Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, who on hearing the news stated:  “UK MPs need just look a short distance across the English Channel to see what your “strict guidelines” will get you; doctor-facilitated killing for the mentally ill, the elderly “tired of life,” a depressed transexual unhappy with a botched sex change operation, euthanasia for children, and a psychiatric patient euthanized because she had been sexually predated by her own psychiatrist. And that’s just scratching the surface.”

Towards the end of my dad’s battle with Alzheimer’s I knew that he had very little quality of life and I also knew that, if he could have seen himself, he would have hated what had happened to him. However, he was in no pain and life was comfortable for him. I was more worried about my mother, herself in her 70s, who was coping with him at home, albeit latterly with the help of a fantastic, private carer. But there would have been no question of us opting to go down the road of assisted suicide for my father even if this had been available to us. Putting aside, for the sake of this argument, his Catholic faith, we could assume that he wouldn’t like what he had become and how he was living but we couldn’t ask him and he was totally comfortable. Fortunately for us, nature did take its course before things become any worse and he contracted a very serious chest infection which, in the end, was what ended his life.

However, I remember when my grandmother was in a nursing home in the 1990s, there was a lady in her room who had all manner of things wrong with her, including Alzheimer’s. She was very thin and her body seemed always to be contorted. I remember she was in a heavy duty canvas cot as she used to thrash around so much she couldn’t be in a normal bed as she would have hurt herself, either by falling or by knocking herself on the rigid raised sides which would have been essential to prevent her falling. When she was very distressed she used to shout out and wail. It was heartbreaking.

On the wall above her cot was a series of black and white portrait photographs of her when she was in her 20s/30s and then a variety of family photos. She had been beautiful: film-star beautiful. The family had put the photos up to remind those looking after her that within this now shell of a human being there had once been a stunning, vital woman who had loved and been loved, had raised a family and had had a life full of meaning which she’d lost in the dementia lottery that we all face. In those days there was no question of assisted suicide and I have no way of knowing whether this would have been her or her family’s wish. What I do know is that, for myself, I would not want to live like this, even with the argument that I wouldn’t know anything about it.

The thing is, Tony Nicklinson was and Paul Lamb and Martin still are in charge of their mental faculties so can tell their families, doctors and lawyers what they want. People who have become mentally incapacitated don’t have this luxury.

With the possibility that the right to assisted suicide could become legal, it’s more important than ever that people think about what their own breaking point might be in the deterioration of their quality of life before assisted suicide becomes a consideration, or if it should never be an option for them, and make sure this is recorded in a living will or in a Lasting Power of Attorney and preferably both.

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Lasting Powers of Attorney are important legal documents that all too often get overlooked. Without going into the legal technicalities, LPAs are, if not exactly essential, as there are ways of overcoming the issue of not having an LPA, are extremely valuable in situations where someone becomes unable to look after their own affairs. (The LPA replaced the Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in October 2007 and existing EPAs still remain valid.)

The most common reason given for people taking out an LPA is in case of dementia in later life but LPAs are not just for the elderly and there are many cases where this important and powerful legal document could have saved people lots of stress, anxiety and money. This particularly relates to businesses and, in particular, small to medium sized businesses or SMEs.

Take, for example, a sole trader. If a sole trader becomes either physically or mentally incapacitated through illness or injury, how will the business continue? A Deputyship order can be made to the Court of Protection, but the business could have imploded before the formalities have been completed and the cost implications are significantly greater than the cost of having an LPA already in place.

What about small partnerships? With many partnerships the banking mandate often contains a restriction that payments in excess of a certain amount require two signatures. What happens if one of those signatories is incapacitated? How would the partnership pay those larger amounts? What impact would this have on the business?

This last example relates to health insurance products such as Income Protection or Critical Illness cover. By definition, the policy holder could become incapacitated, in which case what would happen if they can’t sign the claim form? There’d be no cash until the application for Deputyship is sorted which could take several months. How would your mortgage and bills get paid in the meantime? Would there be enough money going into the home to pay for all your additional expenses too? In fact, anyone taking out one of these policies would be well advised to make the relevant LPAs at the same time.

If you’d like a chat about making an LPA and how one could help protect your business and family in the event of a crisis then call me on 07850 751671 or email catherine@lovinglymanaged.com.

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