By Stewart Stretton-Hill, Tax, Trusts and Estates senior associate at Irwin Mitchell

We all have different visions of our ‘golden years’, be that visiting foreign lands, ticking off the bucket list or spending a quiet retirement by the fireside. Unfortunately reality is often very different; health needs can make a hole in the bucket list and the vision has to change. That is why it is so important to prepare for the ‘golden years’.

Ask yourself three questions and make preparations:

  • What sort of care do I want?
  • How can I make sure I get that care?
  • What are the most important things to me?

What sort of care do I want?

In essence, there are two types of care provision: care at home (domiciliary care) or living in a care facility (residential care).

Domiciliary care can include:

  • ‘Pop in’ carers who might assist with day to day tasks such as helping you to cook meals or get dressed;
  • Companions who will visit during the day to provide support and friendship but don't address health or medical needs;
  • Live-in carers who may provide round the clock support for health, social and medical needs.

Residential care is either a care home (dealing primarily with social needs) or a nursing home (where the individual has social and medical needs).

What level of care will you need? How do you want that care delivered? Where would you like to live?

A good place to start is to find out what domiciliary care services are available in your area. Visit local care homes and consider if you would be happy living there long term. Make sure the homes cater to what is important to you.

How can I make sure I get that care?

Most people will want to stay at home as long as possible. But will you be able to decide? If you lack your mental capacity then, unless you have made a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, the decision will lie in the hands of the Local Authority.

Even if it is decided that you will stay at home will it be possible? Is there sufficient space for a live-in carer? Can you afford to pay for domiciliary care long term? The Local Authority will help to pay for your care if your capital resources fall below £23,250, excluding the value of the property while you are living in it. However, the care that the Local Authority provides may be far below the level care you would like to receive.

We'd recommend you undertake a financial review and have a cash flow plan. This will help you understand the level of care you can afford.

Also, make sure you sign a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. Without this your family members may be consulted by the Local Authority but they will not have any authority to take decisions about your medical or care needs.

Finally, make sure you sign a Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney. Without this no one will be able to access your finances to pay for your care without permission from the court.

What are the most important things to me?

If you lose your mental capacity, it's still possible to live well if those caring for you understand what is most important to you.

For example music can be very powerful to provoke emotional memories. With dementia the emotional memory is often intact. Ensure your carers know what makes you happy, what you cannot stand and what may make you feel calm.

Paint a picture of how you would like to live if you can't take decisions for yourself and share that with your attorneys and carers so they can help you live as well as possible.

Although later life may not always be what we envisage, with good preparation you can still enjoy your ‘golden years’.

Watch our webinar 

I was recently on a panel with some of my Irwin Mitchell colleagues where we discussed Wills and LPA’s in relation to our recent research with YouGov. We asked more than 4000 adults aged 40 and over about their attitudes towards saving money and planning for retirement, and how these might have changed through the pandemic.

The survey uncovered a range of findings and key indicators of which groups are more likely to prepare for their future. It also showed which groups are more likely to slip through the gaps, including geographical, gender, age and social differences.

Watch the webinar recording where our legal and financial experts discuss the survey results and provide practical guidance on how you can plan for your retirement here.

You can also download our top tips PDF.

If you’d like to discuss your own later life planning, please do get in touch.