When should you start planning long term care

When someone says “long term care” people automatically picture elderly people living in care homes.

However, long term care can become necessary at any age, which is why it is important to make sure that you have already made arrangements for someone to make decisions on your behalf, who also knows your wishes, in case you lose capacity or are otherwise in need of long term care.

Firstly, it is important to have attorneys in place to manage your property and financial affairs and your health and welfare.

Why do I need a lasting power of attorney?

A property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney gives your attorney the power to make decisions about your money and property. This may include paying bills, collecting your pension, managing your bank account and selling your home to pay for care if necessary.

A health and welfare lasting power of attorney gives your attorney the power to make decisions about things such as your medical care, whether you should be moved into a care home and about life-sustaining treatment. Once the documents are registered, a property and financial affairs attorney can act to assist you with managing your own affairs before you lose capacity but health and welfare attorneys can only act when you lose capacity.

What happens if I lose capacity?

Should you lose capacity without having attorneys in place then it will be necessary for either your family or friends to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as deputies on your behalf – this process can be expensive and time-consuming. This also leaves open the possibility for someone who you would not wish to act on your behalf to be appointed to do so.

Secondly, you should ensure that you have made a will and your executors or attorneys know where it is located. It is easy to put off making a will until later on in life, but there is the risk that you will lack testamentary capacity when you do get around to having one drafted. Again, it is possible to have a will executed for you by way of application to the court, but this is expensive, time-consuming and the result may mean that your estate is distributed in a way that you do not want.

Finally, it is important that you consider the likely costs of care being provided, either at home or in a care home, and whether you can take steps to protect your estate from these costs, without being considered to have deprived yourself of assets by your local authority.