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“A problem of our generation” – Adults without children are on the rise but most ignore later life planning, survey reveals

The majority of adults without children are failing to plan for later life, according to a new survey.

Over 300 adults responded to the survey conducted by law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, which revealed that while most respondents (86%) had thought about who they would leave their assets to when they die, the majority (59%) hadn’t made a will, meaning that their estate could pass to relatives who they are not close to or they do not want to inherit.

The survey also examined whether adults without children had thought about who would look after their financial interests and make health care decisions on their behalf if their partner had died or they were single and had lost capacity.

Over half (55%) hadn’t thought about who they would appoint to look after their financial interests and an even higher number, 65%, hadn’t thought about who they would appoint to speak to health professionals if they lacked the capacity to do so.

According to the organisation Ageing without Children (AWOC), 20% of people aged over 50 have no children and by 2030 it is estimated that two million people over 65 will have no children. These figures, combined with an ageing population, are creating a perfect storm for those without children, say lawyers.

Nicola Waldman, private client solicitor at law firm Hodge Jones & Allen says: “This is a problem of our generation. It’s understandable that people don’t want to think that far ahead but for some, not making plans now could mean their estate going to relatives that they aren’t that close to or that they don’t like. Significant others, close friends and favourite charities will all miss out.

“Naturally people with children assume that their children will advocate on their behalf and help with financial and health decisions if they lose capacity, yet adults without children are left in a planning quandary and seem to be putting off making decisions.

“It is far better to face to up to these issues now, while they are still able to make their own choices, rather than when it is too late and they have lost all control. The alternative may mean a stranger stepping in for you who has no idea of your true wishes. This may mean them making decisions about your finances, giving consent for treatment or operations, or how and where you should be cared for. They may not know you well enough or even visit you often enough to speak up for you if you were being neglected.”

Any adult with mental capacity can appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf in the event they lose mental capacity. This is done by creating a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of LPA:

  • Health and welfare
  • Property and financial affairs

Adults can choose to make one type or both.

If there is no LPA in place and an individual has lost mental capacity, the Court of Protection will appoint a deputy to look after their financial and/or health care interests. A close friend or a relative can be appointed to be a deputy, but if there is no one to take on this role, it will fall to a professional deputy, such as a solicitor, who will charge fees to manage your interests.

Ends

Notes for Editors

About the survey

  • An online survey ran between 7 – 24 October, 2016.
  • In total, 305 people responded to the survey.
  • 97% of respondents were female, 3% were male.
  • Over three-quarters (76%) of respondents were aged between 35 and 54.

Hodge Jones & Allen

  • Hodge Jones & Allen is one of the UK’s most progressive law firms, renowned for doing things differently and fighting injustice.
  • For almost 40 years’ the firm has been at the centre of many of the UK’s landmark legal cases that have changed the lives and rights of many people.
  • The firm’s team of specialists have been operating across: Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Industrial Disease, Civil Liberties, Criminal Defence, Court of Protection, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Family Law, Military Claims, Serious Fraud, Social Housing, Wills & Probate and Property Disputes.
  • Co-founder Patrick Allen is still at the helm of the firm he co-founded in 1977.
  • In 2016 the firm launched Hearing their voices – a campaign to raise awareness and build conversations around the issues and the injustices we might all face.