There are vulnerable people living in Warwickshire who have no control over important later-life decisions, according to a Leamington solicitor for the elderly.

Donna Bothamley, head of wills & probate at Leamington solicitors Blythe Liggins, said a new report by SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) revealed that whilst some people had a will in place to manage their affairs after death, only a few had a lasting power of attorney (LPA) in place.

An LPA safeguards their wishes in the event they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves due to accident or illness like dementia, for example, decisions about their housing, assets, heath and care.

“Most people want a family member or friend to make important decisions on their behalf in the event of illness or an accident,” said Mrs Bothamley. “However, few are aware that without a lasting power of attorney in place, any individuals’ affairs, such as their end-of-life wishes and health treatments, could be left in the hands of third party solicitors, social workers, medical doctors, or even the British courts.”

Mrs Bothamley said that even the minority of those who had taken steps to plan ahead may still be at risk due to poor quality legal advice and invalid documents. The SFE report found that many people with a lasting power of attorney in place did not use experts or legal guidance, instead taking a gamble by using online resources, non-legal advisers or off-the-shelf kits.

Mrs Bothamley, who was recently recognised by the SFE with the Older Client in Practice Award, said most people assumed that if they suffered an illness or accident, their next of kin would be responsible for vital decisions. The reality is starkly different – loved ones may not be able to make a decision on their behalf unless they had a lasting power of attorney 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.”

CAPTION: Donna Bothamley with her Older Client in Practice Award.

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