There may be a time when you can no longer share of communicate what you think, or you cannot make decision over your finances or legal affairs. This may be due to the development of a medical condition such as dementia. If you are affected by dementia you will need to consider the legal and financial implications for you and your family.
When you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with dementia you should consider whether two legal documents are in place – a Will and a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Why is a Will important?
Having a Will allows you to decide what happens to your property and possessions and choose who they go to. Wills can be put in place using Trusts to protect your property and to ensure beneficiaries in receipt of means-tested benefits don't lose their entitlements through an inheritance. You will need to have capacity to make or change an existing Will. If you have dementia you may still be able to make a new Will or change your Will, but you should speak to your solicitor who may also need to contact your GP to check you do have capacity.
Why is a Lasting or Enduring Power of Attorney important?
If you lose the ability to manage your own financial affairs, a partner or family member cannot automatically deal with things on your behalf. Having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place is just as important as having a Will. It gives you the reassurance of knowing your wishes will be respected if you become unable to make decisions for yourself and it enables people you choose to have access to your finances to make payments on your behalf.
If you have not made an Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney it is still possible for someone who care for you to be appointed on your behalf to take decisions for you. You would need to make an application to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship. A Deputy does the same job as an Attorney, but the application is time consuming, expensive and may not result in the person / people you want managing your affairs, as the Deputy is chosen by the Court, not you. It is better to make a Lasting Power of Attorney as it is quicker, cheaper ad you choose your Attorney.
The Financial consequences of Dementia
Following a diagnosis of dementia you may be worried and it makes good sense to take steps to ensure financial matters are taken care of. You should check you are getting all the help and state benefits you are entitled to, e.g do you qualify for Attendance Allowance?
Lin Whitehead, professional Member of Solicitors for the Elderly and Court of Protection Solicitor said ''Recent statistics show that only 43% of people in the East of England have a Will in place and even fewer have a Lasting Power of Attorney. Our lawyers are keen to do what they can, having seen first-hand the devastating affect this condition has on the families who care for those diagnosed with dementia. I would always advise my clients to plan ahead for later life and have those important conversations with their loved ones while they can.''
Clapham & Collinge regularly hold 'Dementia Awareness Sessions' with Dementia Friends, to help spread the word about dementia, understand what it's like to live with dementia and create a dementia friendly community. Over the last 12 months we have created over 60 new Dementia Friends in Norfolk. The next session is taking place on Wednesday 15th June, from 5.45pm - 6.45pm. To find out more please contact Louis Hilldrup-Boorman on 01603 693579 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the services Clapham & Collinge Solicitors offer for later life planning, please following this link to our Wills, Trusts and Probate dedicated webpages or call 01603 693500 to speak to a member of the team.