Some 86 per cent of people are unwittingly leaving major decisions about later-life long term care, housing and assets to chance, Solicitors for the Elderly at Coles Miller warned today.
Around 82 per cent of people in the South West say they want their loved ones to take these decisions on their behalf when they are no longer able to do so.
But in reality only eight per cent of people in the region have taken out the necessary Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to make sure this happens.
Coles Miller Partner Stuart Bradford - an accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly - highlighted the dangers of not having an LPA in place.
“Without a Lasting Power of Attorney, you have no control over who will take important later-life decisions on your behalf,” he said.
“These decisions could be taken by complete strangers - social workers, doctors, courts - instead of by the family members you love, know and trust.”
He added: “It’s ironic - 49 per cent of people have made plans for what happens when they die by drafting a will but only a sixth of them have made plans for their later years of life.
“The reality is that everyone - whether elderly or not - should have these important legal documents in place in case of accidents. They should be drawn up by solicitors specialising in wills and powers of attorney.”
Solicitors for the Elderly Chief Executive Lakshmi Turner 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.”
Solicitors for the Elderly 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.
Coles Miller lawyers accredited to Solicitors for the Elderly are: Partner Stuart Bradford (Poole and Wimborne) and Partner Anthony Weber (Broadstone).
For more information on how Coles Miller can help with wills, powers of attorney, tax and trusts, please contact Coles Miller Partner Stuart Bradford (Head of the Probate Department), 01202 673011.