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Play contact sport? Why a Lasting Power of Attorney is always a good idea

Play contact sport? Why a Lasting Power of Attorney is always a good idea

When it comes to playing contact sport, discussions about concussion, brain injury and trauma as well as linked degenerative conditions are often not far behind.

Earlier this month, a preliminary hearing for a group of former footballers who claim they suffered head injuries during their sporting careers reached the High Court.

And last December (2023), it emerged that former Wales rugby stars, Gavin Henson and Colin Charvis, were among 295 ex-players suing the rugby authorities over brain injuries.

Although still not definitive, evidence of a link between contact sport and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s appears to be growing – one study found former rugby players are eight times more likely and football players three-and-a-half times more likely to develop dementia than an ordinary person.

Being concerned about developing dementia and losing mental capacity as a result, is something many of us worry about, including, of course, those of us who have played a lot of contact sport.

Getting your legal affairs in order, including appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), can bring a sense of reassurance about the future and acts like an insurance policy – there in case you need it although hopefully you never will.

Why is a Lasting Power of Attorney so important?

An LPA is arguably as important a legal document as a Will.

If drawn up properly by a specialist solicitor, it is a positive and effective tool which allows someone to appoint another person, or people, to act on their behalf if they lose mental capacity and are unable to manage their own affairs.

There are two types of LPA. One for property and financial affairs and one which covers health and welfare decisions and can include end of life care.

For an LPA to be valid, the person making it, known as the donor, must fully understand the implications of the arrangement at the time. It’s called having mental capacity.

This is why it is so vital to plan ahead particularly as there’s no doubt, LPAs are not just for old people.

Is dementia on the increase generally?

Yes. The University College London has estimated that up to 1.7 million people could be living with dementia by 2040, including those who have played contact sport.

Most degenerative conditions have a serious debilitating effect on a person’s physical and mental capacity.

What is concussion’s role in the possible development of dementia?

Concussion is caused by a bump to the head that may cause the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth within the skull resulting in a temporary loss of normal brain function.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is damage to the brain cause by repetitive concussive blows.

Although it can only be definitively diagnosed after death, a probable diagnosis can be made while the person is still alive. It has been found that CTE may be related to neurological conditions such as Dementia, Parkinson’s and Motor Neurone Disease.

Why is it so crucial to get the LPA paperwork right?

Once the decision is made to appoint an LPA, it is vital to get the paperwork right.

An LPA can only be used once it has been registered with the OPG, a process that is currently taking an average of four months and often longer.

Recent data shows that almost 130,000 LPA applications have been rejected over the last five years because they contained mistakes.

This means the OPG returns the forms, and you not only have to apply again but pay another fee.

Although you can do an LPA online, using a specialist solicitor to create and register an LPA ensures against it being drawn up with errors that turn out later to be expensive, time consuming and stressful to put right.

Get in touch

Wards Solicitors is once again recommended as a South West Leading firm in the Legal 500 list for 2024, praised for its exceptional professional service standards and high levels of technical expertise.

Our Wills and Mental Capacity Team is one of the largest in the region and vastly experienced. All our lawyers have extensive and specialist knowledge of how to set up an LPA.

In addition, most of our team members are fully accredited with Solicitors for the Elderly – now known as the Association of Lifetime Lawyers – and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). Membership of these organisations ensures the highest standards of professionalism.

We offer a free initial appointment for you to discuss what you need and always provide clear cost details up front before starting any work.

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