SFE Research Reveals Increase In End-Of-Life Planning

New research conducted by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) has revealed that there has been an increase in people planning for later life as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The current pandemic has heightened uncertainty amongst the public, and feelings of anxiety about the future. Many have had their eyes opened to the need to plan ahead for later life and worst-case scenarios, with 45% of over 40s having thought about their own mortality during this time.

As a result, the survey found that 54% of over 40s think planning ahead of death is more important than ever, and 44% of those who don’t currently have a will, now think they should create one.

In these unprecedented times, people across the UK are looking to gain back a sense of control over their lives, and see planning ahead of loss of capacity or end of life as a positive (64%) and necessary (81%) step, and something we should all do more of (77%).

Moreover, whilst death is often thought of as a taboo subject, the crisis has prompted people to have more open conversations with their families, and 65% of over 40s believe that talking to loved ones about their wishes for the end of life is more important than ever.

In addition to the research, the SFE ‘Find a Lawyer’ phone line received a 133% increase in calls between April and August, from older people and their family members looking for specialist lawyers to provide later life legal advice.

However, despite a clear shift in attitudes towards later life planning, the survey also revealed that a large portion of the public have not yet taken the necessary steps to put their legal documents in place. Over a third (37%) of over 40s, and 15% of over 70s, still do not have a will in place. Even fewer (22% of over 40s) have a lasting power of attorney (LPA), to safeguard their wishes in the event that they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.

Whilst it is encouraging to see more people thinking ahead, only 18% of over 40-year olds think they could get their legal documents, such as probate, wills and LPAs, in place without any help. It’s therefore more important than ever for legal professionals to help clients get legally binding documents finalised as early as possible. By planning ahead, and taking the necessary steps, clients can ensure their finances and healthcare decisions are protected, and that their wishes will be honoured further down the line.

Michael Culver, Chair of the Board at Solicitors for the Elderly, said:

“The last six months have been unsettling for many, and it’s not surprising that more people are planning ahead for the future, from finances to health to end-of-life care. The importance of later life planning cannot be stressed enough, and at SFE, we’re pleased to have seen an increase in the numbers of people seeking out specialist legal advice during this time. As lawyers, we now need to support people to follow through with those plans, and provide them with the right help to get the correct legal documents in place for their needs.”

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