Posted on 20.6.16
We may think of exercise as the key to good health. But increasing interest in sport and keep fit is prompting a rise in people making a will.
It seems that fear of being left incapacitated by a sporting accident or, even worse, suffering a fatal injury is the catalyst for rising numbers of people wanting to ensure they have made provision for their loved ones, according to Michael Smoult, a Senior Solicitor in the Wills, Trust & Probate team of Gorvins Solicitors based in Manchester, North West.
“Over the past 12 months Gorvins have seen a 65% increase in the number of people making a Will coupled with a significant rise in clients putting Power of Attorney into place primarily because of their sporting activities or adventurous hobbies.”
Only recently army captain David Seath, 31, who served in Afghanistan, died after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest at the 23-mile mark of the London Marathon.
And while exercise amongst so-called MAMILS – Middle Aged Men In Lycra – is booming, emerging science suggests there is a threshold of distance, intensity or duration for even the hardiest fitness fanatic, and overshooting this can have a serious impact, particularly on cardiovascular health.
“We are certainly seeing more and more clients who are becoming nervous about the ramifications of taking up sport or exercise,” adds Michael Smoult. “For example, I recently made a will for a client in their forties who felt motivated to do so after a fellow team player in their regular five-a-side football game had an unsuspected heart attack. It sounds ironic that people should equate exercise with making a will, but, sadly, many are becoming aware of the potential risk which goes with it.”
It seems that people are not only concerned about a fatal injury while doing sport. They are also worried about what would happen if they suffered a brain injury or were incapacitated as a result of an accident.
Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher who has been battling for his life ever since he suffered devastating head injuries in December 2013 during a ski accident.
And Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell, who suffered a brain injury after being hit by a truck while cycling has spoken of how his personality has drastically changed since the accident. (The smash left him with damage to his frontal lobe – the part of the brain that controls things like mood, empathy and motivation.)
Adds solicitor Michael Smoult, “Not only are clients worried about what would happen to their families, their estates and businesses if they were to die intestate. High profile cases of sporting injury – including recent news that Mohammed Ali may have developed Parkinson’s because of his boxing career – has created a fear of what would happen if they were incapacitated through sport.”
“The problem is that without a lasting power of attorney – a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf, if you lack mental capacity – no one can manage your affairs without your authorisation. So once a person is incapacitated then their bank accounts freeze once the bank become aware, and bills can go unpaid for months. If an LPA is not prepared then a Court Application for appointment is needed which takes four to six months to obtain, costs a lot more and if appointed is very stringently regulated. All of which compounds distress for relatives.”
Exercise in middle age has been booming in Britain, and with good cause. Only last week it was revealed that regular exercise is the best lifestyle change a middle-aged person can make to prevent dementia.
However many experts fear the consequences of overdoing it. One study presented at the American Academy of Family Physicians found middle-aged men who run marathons are at significantly greater risk of cardiac arrest.
Adds Michael: “There’s no doubt that exercise and keeping fit is the key to a healthy life. But accidents can happen, people can push themselves too hard or there can be an undiagnosed health issue which can have catastrophic results. And while it’s important for everyone to make a will to ensure their loved ones are taken care of, ironically, it seems the risks posed by sporting activities are making it more important than ever to do so.”