Living with Dementia: Managing your legal affairs

Living with Dementia: Managing your legal affairs

If you have received a diagnosis of Dementia, it's important to put together a plan for your future wishes and care. Our living with dementia Q&As highlight how a solicitor can help make sure plans for the future are put in place and are legally valid.

Q1. How can a solicitor help someone living with dementia plan for their future?

A solicitor can help someone living with dementia plan for their future by taking their instructions for Wills, Trusts and Lasting Powers of Attorney. It is a common misconception that someone diagnosed with dementia lacks the capacity to make legal documents. Solicitors can assess the person's capacity when taking instructions for legal documents and involve GPs where necessary. If someone living with dementia does not have capacity then the Court of Protection can appoint a Deputy to manage their affairs and the Deputy can make an application for a Statutory Will on their behalf.

Q2. What are Lasting Powers of Attorney and what do they cover?

Lasting Powers of Attorney are documents which appoint people (attorneys) to deal with your finances and welfare in the event that you lose capacity. You are able to provide instructions to your attorneys in the documents or your preferences in regards to specific matters. A Lasting Power of Attorney for Property & Financial Affairs allows your attorneys to make decisions which are in your best interests in relation to your property, bank accounts and investments. A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare allows your attorneys to make decisions in relation to your personal welfare including your care needs.

Q3. What is a deputy and how can you become one?

A Deputy is a person who is appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions on behalf of a person who has lost capacity and cannot make or amend their Lasting Powers of Attorney. It is more common for a Deputy to be appoint to manage the person's Property & Financial Affairs as the Court accepts that in most cases healthcare professionals are best placed to make decisions regarding a personal's welfare. The application to become a Deputy is a paper application to the Court and requires specific forms to be completed. Family members/friends can be appointed as Deputies as can professionals. The Office of the Public Guardian also have a panel of professional Deputies they can appoint in complex or contested cases.

Q4. What is an advance statement and how can it help someone living with dementia?

An advance statement, otherwise known as a Living Will, is a legal document which outlines your decisions to refuse a specific type of treatment at some time in the future and is used when you no longer have the capacity to make the decisions for yourself. It is a way in which to let your loved ones know your preferences regarding treatment. Living Wills are not usually as comprehensive as a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare and so it is recommended that you seek legal advice in the first instance.

Q5. What advice would you give to someone living with dementia when it comes to planning for the future?

A diagnosis of dementia does not mean that you are unable to make legal documents, however it is best to make legal documents sooner rather than later so that your wishes can be carried out in the event that you do lose capacity. For more information on making a Lasting Power of Attorney after a Diagnosis of Dementia, see our case study example.

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 and Sheringham.

*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.

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