If you've been diagnosed with dementia, it's a really good idea to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and Will as soon as possible. To highlight the process, we have provided a real life example where an Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is made following an early diagnosis of dementia to protect a person's interests and wishes.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
There are two different types of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA). One relates to 'Property and Financial Affairs' and the other relates to 'Health and Welfare'. Both Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) appoint trusted people (attorneys) to act on a person's behalf should they lose the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves regarding financial matters or general welfare.
A Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) appoints attorneys to make a range of decisions about finances, including the buying and selling of property, operating a bank account, dealing with tax affairs and claiming benefits.
A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) appoints attorneys to make decisions regarding where you should live, day-to-day care, and whether to consent or refuse consent to medical treatment on a person's behalf.
Case Study – Michael
Michael has recently been diagnosed with dementia. Although he often shows signs of confusion and can be forgetful, his diagnosis is at the initial stage and is mainly unrecognisable. Michael's daughter Emily is concerned as Michael does not have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place; meaning, no one has the legal authority to look after his finances when he is no longer able to do this himself, or to ensure his medical and care preferences are carried out.
What can Michael and Emily do?
A person who has been diagnosed with dementia is still able to make a Lasting Power of Attorney provided they have sufficient mental capacity to understand the nature and implications of the power they are giving to their attorneys.
In this instance, as Michael is in the early stages of dementia he is still in a position where he is able to make an Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Therefore, Emily encourages him to make an appointment with a legal professional to start the process as soon as possible.
Meeting Michael's Solicitor
When attending the initial appointment with the solicitor, Michael is able to bring Emily with him for support and to settle any nerves. However, the solicitor will ask Emily to leave the room when taking Michael's instructions to ensure that these are Michael's own instructions and that he is not being unduly influenced in any way. During this initial appointment the solicitor will ensure that Michael understands his options, the responsibility and power that he is giving to his attorneys, and how the Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) should be used.
For individuals living with dementia at a more advanced stage than Michael, during the appointment the solicitor can assess whether the person has sufficient capacity to make an Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). If the solicitor has concerns about a person's capacity they can ask the person's GP to assist.
Following the initial meeting, Michael is provided with draft Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) so he can see exactly what the documents look like and to give him the opportunity to consider whether there is anything else he would like to add. Once satisfied with the Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), Michael visits his solicitor for another appointment where they would go through the documents together ensuring that Michael fully understands the content and to answer any remaining questions he may have.
Once Michael has signed the Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), the attorneys are required to sign the documents to confirm they understand their responsibilities and to confirm that they accept their appointment. The solicitor sends information to the attorneys on what their responsibilities will be to assist their understanding. If they have any queries they are then able to contact the solicitor.
Registering the document
As the Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) cannot be used until they have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (the Court), Michael's solicitor deals with this as soon as the attorneys have confirmed their agreement to act and the Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are fully signed. The registration process takes between 6 to 8 weeks. Once this process is complete the Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) will be ready to use as soon as they are required. Emily is therefore assured that when Michael's dementia progresses she has the legal authority in place to assist him with his finances and ensure his wishes regarding care and medical treatment are carried out.
If you have been diagnosed with Dementia, you may also wish to get advice on making or updating your will. Just because you are living with dementia it does not necessarily mean you are unable to make a Will. However, time is of the essence and it is important to ensure you seek legal advice as early as possible, while you are still in a position to pass the legal test for testamentary capacity.
To find out more or discuss your individual requirements in further detail, our dedicated Lasting Power of Attorney and Will solicitors are on hand to help, contact us today on 01603 693500 or email us using 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at Norwich, North Walsham, Sheringham & Brooke.