Industry professionals share views of overcoming an incapacity crisis
A report was released in July this year by the Solicitors for the Elderley (SFE) which warned of a incapacity crisis and highlighted that over a third of the UK is unprepared for later life as they had not planned for important end of life decisions.
Industry experts discuss what could be done to improve discussions surrounding end of life decision making, whether they feel there is enough public awareness highlighting the importance of end of life planning and who is responsible for instilling it into the general public….
Emily Deane, Technical Counsel at The Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP), commented: “If you become incapacitated by illness or an accident your family members will not have the automatic legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. Decisions such as medical treatment, breathing and feeding by artificial methods, blood transfusions and tests, physiotherapy and nursing care are some of the fundamental issues that will arise. If you have a Health & Welfare LPA in place it will give you and your family and friends, the peace of mind that your wishes and needs are being fulfilled.
“If an application to the Court of Protection must be made it can be lengthy, costly and stressful at what would already be a difficult time for the family. In addition, there is a chance that the Court may reject the application or that it could result in a decision which is not in line with your wishes. STEP encourages everyone to make a Health & Welfare LPA, regardless of current health or age, so that you can communicate your decisions to your attorneys and maximise your chances of having your wishes protected in the future.”
Chris Millward, Director of Consulting at Legacy Voice, said: “Legacy Voice recently commissioned some of the UKs leading academics in fundraising to undertake a review of all research which had been published in relation to legacy giving. There has been a proliferation of research into legacy giving and related areas, including end of life planning, particularly in the past 10 years. Sadly, much of this research is hard to access or misunderstood. Given the critical role charitable legacy gifts play in supporting UK charities, and the pivotal role charity legacy fundraisers play in facilitating conversations about end of life, we wanted them to have access to this valuable information to ensure they can do their jobs in the most effective and empathetic way possible.
The key findings of the review were as follows:
•75% of the population are actively motivated to die with a positive net worth and leave something behind for future generations.
•Legacy giving is proven to be good for you. Particularly later in life, it helps people age well, to find a new sense of purpose and even increases self-esteem.
•Most of your donors are good legacy prospects. While people are naturally older when they die and finally leave a gift to charity, people of all ages can and do make charitable Wills. By the age of 40, most people will have experienced a life change that puts them in a position to contemplate making a Will and therefore a charitable gift.
•The biggest barrier to Will making is apathy, with most people saying they haven’t got around to it yet. The biggest barrier to leaving a gift to charity in a Will is having children.
•Effective legacy giving language is completely different, opposite even, to effective lifetime giving language. If our fundraising communications fail to reflect this fact they will be completely ineffective.
•Stories and storytelling is proven to be a very effective technique in legacy fundraising. Tapping into the life story of a donor, and the power of social norming, we find that the more stories we tell, and the more the story reflects the readers own life, the more they are likely to consider a legacy gift themselves.
•Potential legacy donors highly scrutinize the organisations they give to and are concerned by issues of trust, the quality of communications they receive and the impact of charity programmes. They can undertake extensive research before they give, and even deliberately test the organisation to gauge their responsiveness.
•There is growing evidence of the importance of stewardship in legacy giving. Organisations that invest in stewardship convert more supporters into legacy donors and of a higher value.
•While the last Will distributes the estate to charity, there is good evidence that gifts in earlier Wills can remain for life and those that do increase in value. A long-term approach to a younger audience with a focus on stewardship can be an effective strategy.
•Donors don’t want public displays of recognition for their legacy gifts, which they consider as ostentatious, but instead prefer more subtle ways to remember their gift (or that of a loved one) such as communal memorials or events to see the impact of a gift up close.
Having worked in legacy fundraising for over a decade, death is a social taboo that I don’t believe we will ever overcome. Death however, and end of life planning, is something we do need to be encouraging more conversations about. Society, family and other institutions all have a role to play in this. Solicitors, and other Will writers, given the natural role they play in facilitating end of life planning, would seem like the perfect intermediaries for such conversations. The Will writing market is a varied one however, and I’m not sure all solicitors would either see this as their role, or currently feel comfortable having such conversations. A missed opportunity?
I’d also point you in the direction of the Dying Matters (for which I am on the Steering Group), whom I believe are doing GREAT work in this area.”
Ana Diling of Kiteleys Solicitors, said: “I do not believe there is enough awareness around end of life decision making. I often meet with clients in relation to other matters and I bring up the topic of making Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPAs”). I am always surprised about the lack of knowledge surrounding not only LPAs but also the risks of not having these in place.
“End of life is not a discussion that anyone wants to have but the alternative is much worse. I always tell clients that age is not the only reason for making these preparations, I made both types of LPA at the age of 29. End of life does not necessarily mean the end of a long life. A loved one could have an accident leaving them incapacitated, and if that loved one is the main provider their family could find themselves at the mercy of the Court of Protection to survive financially.
“There are also the healthcare decisions that would need to be made and knowing exactly what your loved one would want helps to relieve the burden of making that decision on their behalf. Would they want to be resuscitated? Would they want to go to a care home? Would they want to have high risk surgery? Would they want to be an organ donor?
“I found out recently that there are local registers that hold key information about the preferences of people in preparation for end of life. Your GP or medical team should tell you if there is a local register in your area and ask if you want to be put on it, but I had never heard of it. I think having this information brought to the forefront of people’s minds by their GP or medical team could make a real difference. The NHS together with the Office of the Public Guardian should take a more active role in making the public aware of these preparations and to remind them of the risks of not having these in place.”