AN ALARMING new report has revealed that nearly 90 per cent of people in the West Midlands are living with no control over important later-life decisions.
The new report by SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly), the national organisation representing legal professionals, takes into account housing, assets as well as health and care.
The report reveals that whilst 37 per cent of people in the West Midlands have a will in place to manage their affairs after death, only seven per cent have a lasting power of attorney (LPA).
To add to the statistics, 78 per cent of people admitted that they would want a family member, or a friend, to make an important decision on their behalf in the event of illness or an accident.
However few are aware that without an LPA in place, any individuals’ 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 British courts.
And it was also revealed that those who have taken steps to plan ahead for later life may still be at risk due to poor quality legal advice and invalid documents.
85 per cent of people with with LPAs in place did not use experts or legal guidance – instead taking a gamble using online resources or non-legal advisers.
Michelle Gavin, head of wills, trusts and probate at Coventry based law firm, Band Hatton Button, said: “Setting up an LPA is a straightforward process which can help to avoid preventable distress at what can be a difficult time.
“The startling figures released in this report serve as a stark reminder of the importance of having a secure plan in place in the event of accident or illness.
“It is important to plan for these events in order to safeguard the wishes of the individual – as well as help loved ones avoid costly court fees incurred from taking the process to court if there is no LPA in place.”
Lakshmi Turner, chief executive of SFE, said: “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.
“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, we urge you to go to an expert to get the right advice.”
To download the report, visit www.sfe.legal