good life, good death, good grief

Ideas for …

Legal and Financial Services and Citizens' Advice organisations

In a practical sense people don’t often think about the financial and legal implications of their illness or death for their loved ones, and don’t make straightforward preparations to minimise distress for their families when they are gone, such as arranging a Will, Power of Attorney or Advanced Healthcare Directive.

Lawyers, solicitors and financial advisers have a major role to play in encouraging people to engage in discussions and take important decisions about practical matters relating to their future reduced capacity or death.

Is there anything that you or your organisation could do to make it easier for people to engage in making practical plans for the future?

Example: Caesar & Howie

Caesar & Howie, a solicitor’s firm based in Central Scotland, became aware of this issue and has started to encourage clients to write advanced healthcare directives.

So far, the firm has found most people quite willing to engage in these discussions, as people are keen to make preparations which will prevent their children having to deal with difficult issues in the future.

Having dealt with Power of Attorney and Wills for years, the firm has found it relatively straightforward to incorporate advanced healthcare directive discussions by adding on a script on AHDs.

People are generally happy to have these discussions, at least partly because they feel that ill health and death are not imminent.

As part of this, the firm has created two internet sites www.seniorissues.co.uk and www.bereavementlegalservices.co.uk and are constructing www.positiveforwardplanning.co.uk.

The thinking behind these is to educate the public regarding future life issues including incapacity and death and to encourage the public to prepare positively to deal with the resulting legal and practical issues.

The firm has also received considerable interest from financial advisers looking for training in these issues, who see it as a possible way of opening up financial discussions with clients.

Example: VOCAL

The cost of obtaining legal advice is a major barrier for many people who might otherwise want to nominate a health or financial attorney.

In order to address this problem the Lothian carers’ charity VOCAL offers free advice to carers about how to set up a Power of Attorney.

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