Dementia is an illness that affects the brain. Symptoms can include problems with memory loss, mental agility and the understanding and processing of information.
According to the Alzheimer's Society there are around 850,000 people in the UK with dementia. The number of people with dementia is increasing because people are living longer and it is estimated that by 2021, the number of people with dementia in the UK will have increased to around 1 million.
Once you have been given a dementia diagnosis, it’s really important to plan ahead and make sure all your affairs are in order whilst you can still make decisions for yourself.
You should consider making or updating your will to make sure that it still reflects your wishes and you should also make a lasting power of attorney. A lasting power of attorney allows you to choose someone to become your attorney and make decisions for you when you can’t anymore.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney, also known as LPAs. They are:
- Property and Financial Affairs
- Health and Care
You can make one or both LPA, but if you have a dementia diagnosis, it’s more important than ever to make sure that you have proper plans in place.
Types of Lasting Power of Attorney
The first type of LPA is Property and Financial Affairs. It allows you to appoint one or more people to be your Attorneys and authorise them to manage your financial matters. This can include signing cheques on your behalf, paying your council tax from your bank account and selling your property to help fund your care. Property and Financial Affair Lasting Powers of Attorney can also be drafted to cover physical incapacity and becoming increasingly essential to those who have chronic arthritis or mobility problems.
The second type of LPA is Health and Care. It allows you appoint one or more people to be your Attorneys but for your health and care matters. Your Attorneys will have the authority to make decisions on any care you receive and even life sustaining treatment, if you want to add that decision into your LPA.
Considerations When Making a Lasting Power of Attorney
When you make an LPA, you place a great deal of trust in your attorneys. You give them authorisation to access and manage your finances and make decisions about your day to day care. As a result, it’s really important to make sure you completely trust your attorney to make the right decisions for you and your finances.
It’s also really important to remember that a Lasting Powers of Attorney can only be made when you have the capacity to make decisions for yourself. The law defines a lack of capacity in Section 2 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005:
“a person lacks capacity in relation to a matter if at the material time he is unable to make a decision for himself in relation to the matter because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain.”
Once you lack capacity, it’s too late to make a Lasting Power of Attorney. Many people think that they don’t need to worry as their spouse, civil partner or children can access everything for them, but this simply isn’t true.
Whilst your spouse or civil partner can access any joint accounts, any accounts in your name will not be accessible and there is a long and costly process to apply to the court to become a deputy.
Plan ahead and make your lasting power of attorney while you still can.
We’re happy to offer you a free initial discussion about making your LPA, so please call us on 0117 926 4121 to speak to the Tax and Estate Planning Team or make a free enquiry online.