86% of people in Yorkshire leave life-changing decisions in the hands of strangers

  • Alarming new report reveals people in Yorkshire and the Humber are leaving major decisions about housing, assets and care to chance
  • There are only 39% of people with a will vs. only 7% with an LPA
  • SFE member, Jill Waddington from Ridley & Hall solicitors urges UK to safeguard wishes in the event of accidents or illness like dementiapens

86% of people in Yorkshire and the Humber are currently living with no control over important later-life decisions around their housing, assets, health, and care, according to a new report by SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly), the national organisation representing legal professionals. Jill Waddington and Helen Webster from Ridley & Hall are accredited SFE members and specialize in helping people plan for later life.

The report reveals that whilst 39% of people in Yorkshire and the Humber have a will in place to manage their affairs after death, only 7% have a lasting power of attorney (LPA) in place to safeguard their wishes, in the event they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves, due to accident or illness like dementia.

85% want a family member or friend to make important decisions 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.

Even the minority of people that have taken steps to plan ahead for later life may still be at risk, due to poor quality legal advice and invalid documents. 38% of people with LPAs in place did not use experts or legal guidance, instead taking a gamble using online resources, non-legal advisers, or off-the-shelf kits.

Jill Waddington, head of the Wills and Probate team at Ridley & Hall said:

“Our clients often want to speak about Wills and how their affairs will be managed after their death, but when you mention the circumstances in which you may need someone to manage your affairs whilst you are still alive, they have rarely even thought about it. Unless a person has had first-hand experience of the problems encountered by not having a Lasting Power of Attorney, it can be quite an eye-opener to discover what might happen if there isn’t one in place. When you explain that almost anyone can apply to the Court of Protection to become your Deputy to manage your affairs after you have lost capacity, they realise they do not want that uncertainty. Deputyship applications are also expensive.  People need to be aware that the best option to ensure that the people who they trust manage their affairs for them is to make a Lasting Power of Attorney.  This is also the cheaper option.”

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.”

SFE is an independent, national organisation of professionals, such as solicitors, barristers, and chartered legal executives, committed to providing the highest quality of legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers.

Our Wills & Probate team