Last week a colleague and I undertook a refresher course with Stephen Oliver of the Will Company. Stephen has been running the Will Company with Tracey Perkins since 1995.
Continuity and reliability are important for us at Astra and being able to rely on Stephen and the Will Company adds significant value to our business. Discussing end-of-life matters is never an easy conversation with clients but since Covid it is a subject more clients are realizing they need to discuss and resolve.
Aside from Wills more and more of us are beginning to understand the importance of ‘lasting powers of attorney’. [LPA] Sadly the UK press is full of examples where the state fails people in old age and does not provide the compassion and empathy which we would expect. Often the courts in fact remove the family from any decision-making with regard to the finances and health of the concerned party.
Not only does this cause anger and upset for the family but also unnecessary costs. Sadly, sometimes LPA’s can be abused by those given authority to help the client. Generally, however, this happens rarely provided the LPA’s are set up correctly with the help of a professional.
The benefits for ex-pats of LPA’s are significant and include the below:
An LPA enables you to choose someone or multiple people to manage your financial affairs when you are no longer mentally capable.
It keeps control of your finances with people you trust and avoids government intervention and unnecessary costs.
It enables the person making the LPA to maintain a certain dignity and lifestyle which they might lose if the state took over and made these decisions.
For ex-pats, this may also mean the ability to choose to remain outside the UK where they could receive better care and at a lower cost.
An LPA helps you to prepare for the later stages of life with people who you trust and who have your best interests at heart.
During the course, we discussed the two main LPA’s which relate to ‘finance & property’ and ‘health and welfare’.
The benefits of the ‘Financial LPA’ are mentioned above but the ‘Health & Welfare LPA’ needs to also be considered for clients. The ‘Health and Welfare LPA’ enables the client to make ‘end-of-life choices’ about the medical care and things they want to be considered as they get older.
These choices can be conveyed to the ‘trusted people’ who are mentioned in the LPA. Once the LPA is registered this gives those ‘trusted people’ the power to speak with Doctors or other concerned parties about your wishes regarding medication or other considerations you may have with regard to ‘life-sustaining treatment’.
LPA’s are a very powerful tool and careful thought needs to be given before you go ahead and set up an LPA. LPA’s are often arranged by a lawyer or solicitor who charge a fee for this service. Once set up the lawyer is unlikely to contact the client or keep in touch with them unless they have a need to speak with the lawyer. Nowadays more and more Independent Wealth Managers/ Financial Advisors are providing this service, especially for ex-pats.
The likely reason for this is that the client is likely to have had a long-term relationship with their ‘wealth manager’. The wealth manager will better understand their situation than a lawyer whom they rarely meet.
Ultimately LPA’s are another form of insurance we all hope that we will never require. However, sadly we will never know the real cost until something happens and it is too late. LPA’s are one of the multitude of tools that a good wealth manager or financial advisor will have in their kit bag to help their clients.
Realistically it is never too early to start considering whether you need to set up an LPA but chatting with your wealth manager can give you clarity on what is becoming a major concern for many ex-pats.
The author of this article is a qualified Will Writer and a member of STEP and able to provide advice and coaching on issues surrounding the use and set up of LPA’s.