Monday 21st May 2018 marks the start of Dementia Action Week in the UK. An initiative set up by the Alzheimer's Society which aims to encourage people to take action to improve the lives of those affected by dementia.
As a firm, we have made a number of pledges to play our part in making Norfolk a more welcoming and helpful place for people living with dementia. We are a member of the Norwich City Dementia Action Alliance and hold regular dementia awareness sessions and training workshops to help raise awareness, understand what it's like to live with dementia and to help create a dementia friendly community. All of our lawyers are 'dementia friends' and we are proud to be a dementia friendly business.
One of the common questions we regularly face as Solicitors is what a can an individual, who has been diagnosed with dementia, do in terms getting their legal affairs in order. The answer to this is simple, if you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with dementia, it is important to consider whether two documents are in place and up-to-date – a Will and a Lasting Power of Attorney.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your Estate. It allows you to decide what happens to your property and possessions upon death and choose who they are bequeathed to.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney ("LPA")?
Having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place is just as important as having a Will. 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. It therefore helps to give you the reassurance of knowing your wishes will be respected if you ever become unable to make decisions for yourself.
I have a diagnosis of Dementia - can I still make these documents?
There is a common misconception that a diagnosis of dementia prevents you from making or amending these documents, however, this is not the case. The legal test for capacity to make a new Will or Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) is decision specific and applied on a case by case basis. This means that whether an individual has capacity to make a new Will or Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) will be very much dependant on their personal circumstances at the time of giving the instructions.
When we meet to take the initial instructions, the solicitor can assess whether the person has sufficient capacity to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or Will. If the solicitor has any concerns about a person's capacity they can ask the person's GP to assist. Therefore, just because you are living with dementia it does not necessarily mean you are unable to make these documents. However, it is important to bear in mind that time is of the essence and it is sensible 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.
If you would like to learn more about dementia and how you can help create a dementia friendly community, our next Dementia Training Workshop is taking place at our Norwich office on Saturday 16th June from 10.00am - 12.00pm, free to attend and open to all, click here for more information or to book your place.
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 our Norwich, North Walsham and Sheringham offices.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.