10 April to 16 April is Parkinson's Awareness Week with today, Monday 11 April, being World Parkinson's Day 2022. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of Parkinson's and encourage fundraising to improve the quality of life for those living with the condition. This year's particular focus is integrated care and emphasising how important a multidisciplinary approach is.
So how can solicitors help you? There are various steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event you are diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.
Step 1: Creating or updating a Will
Creating a Will allows you to plan what happens to your estate on your death. When somebody dies without a valid Will in place, their estate will be subject to the laws of intestacy, meaning that the distribution of their estate is directed by statute. Making a Will allows you to ensure that your estate is passed on in line with your wishes and take decisions yourself about how your estate should be managed.
We would strongly recommend you update your Will and structure it in a way to plan for the various personal circumstances that may occur by the time of your death. By way of example, where your first-choice beneficiary has predeceased you, your Will can include provisions for an alternative beneficiary to inherit. An individual must have the necessary mental capacity to prepare or amend their Will, and so a Will is something that should be prepared and reviewed regularly to ensure it still meets your objectives.
An updated Will allows you to remain in control of your affairs and support your loved ones. They can also be structured so as to plan for Inheritance Tax if that is a concern.
A common symptom of Parkinson's Disease is the development of a tremor which can make handwriting difficult. We can help you if this does impact your ability to sign your Will. If you are unable to write, you can provide your consent for a solicitor to sign your Will on your behalf.
Step 2: Granting a Power of Attorney
Granting a Power of Attorney will allow you to nominate somebody (or more than one person) to have legal authority to make decisions about you and your affairs, should you not be able to. It is important that a Power of Attorney is granted in advance of it being needed, because the granter needs to be assessed by a lawyer or a doctor as understanding the nature and extent of the powers they are granting. However, a Power of Attorney does not have to come into operation until such time as the granter loses capacity. Therefore, if your disease does not progress to impact your capacity, it will simply not be used.
The people you choose have the power to decide matters on your behalf. You should pick someone you trust will respect your wishes and are comfortable acting on your behalf. You can choose to have more than one attorney if you deem this to be the best option for you and they can be appointed to act jointly or individually of one another.
Powers of Attorney cover both financial and welfare matters. Financial powers can be operational with your consent prior to a loss of capacity meaning you can request practical assistance from your Attorney with your finances if you were to wish their support. In contrast, welfare powers will only become operational in the event you were to lose your mental capacity to make decisions about your own welfare and safeguard your affairs.
We also recommend preparing a Key Information Summary. This is a document you can create with your GP and would outline various directives to provide a summary of your wishes for medical treatment and care. Your chosen Attorneys would be listed on this document for future health care professionals to consult with. Having the Power of Attorney in place early on will provide the opportunity for you to discuss how you would like your future affairs to be handled.
Planning for your future allows you to make your wishes clear to those around you in the event you cannot communicate these yourself and will help to ensure that you remain in control, as far as possible. We will be happy to help you with creating or updating a Will or granting a Power of Attorney. We can offer both in person meetings in our office or online meetings based on your preference.
The content of this webpage is for information only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice and should not be treated as a substitute for specific advice. Morton Fraser LLP accepts no responsibility for the content of any third party website to which this webpage refers. Morton Fraser LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.