If there’s anything that can be gleaned from making our way through a year of an international pandemic, it’s the importance of both being there for one another through a variety of means and making sure plans are in place because the worst can strike at any time.
We all make our own preparations for different situations in our own ways – perhaps you bought a lot of toilet roll or hand soap last March, or maybe you’ve always had a stash of cans of beans and pre-prepared meals in the freezer just in case. There’s nothing wrong with being prepared, but there are a few jobs often overlooked because of the idea they are too difficult, too time-consuming, or just not necessary.
On paper in the most basic form of guidelines, everyone over the age of 18 can have a will, but how many of you considered this while also getting excited about the first night ‘out out’ on the town?
The other preparation we can make for the future is a lasting power of attorney (LPA). This means you can decide who makes choices on your behalf about your care, your finances, and your housing should you become unable to for one reason or another.
Netflix’s hit movie, I Care A Lot, shows an exaggerated glimpse at what can happen if plans aren’t in place. Rosamund Pike plays Marla Grayson, a court-appointed legal guardian for those who are unable to take care of themselves. It’s not based on a true story but inspired by a number of real-life guardianship scams targeting older people in America. I won’t spoil the whole plot for you here, but I recommend a watch.
Also hitting the headlines recently is the #FreeBritney movement, following the recent Framing Britney Spears documentary. The pop star has been under a conservatorship since 2008 where her father controlled all decisions regarding finances, health, business deals, and personal life before appointing another third party in 2019. There are lots of threads to bring together here, but the recent developments include her mother commenting she should be able to have more control in decisions about her, which is currently being discussed.
While both scenarios may be based in the American legal system, which varies from state to state, they are important reminders that anything can happen, and it pays to be prepared.
Most of us have the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel coming up, but many vulnerable and shielding will be cautious and anxious about the potential risks of what the future holds. Having an LPA means should anything happen, there’s a plan in place with people you trust and who know you best making important care decisions.
If these plans aren’t in place, the Court of Protection will assign a deputy to make these decisions. This process is lengthy, ends up costing more than an LPA, and means you don’t have the guarantee of someone who cares about you or understands you in the driving seat.
For further advice and guidance, the Advice Team at Diverse Abilities, Dorset’s disability charity, are happy to assist. Visit diverseabilities.org.uk/advice or call 0300 330 5514.
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