Wills and Probate

How the Lasting Powers of Attorney can help someone with dementia

Zoe Fleming, our head of Wills, Trusts and Probate, is a dementia champion. She often delivers specialist training on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society. Zoe recently became regional director for Lancashire’s Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE).

Here, she explains why a Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) is especially important for those who are diagnosed with dementia.

The Lasting Powers of Attorney is a  legal document. It allows a selected person to make decisions on someone else’s behalf, should they lose capacity to do this themselves.

Without an LPA, it is hard for friends and family to help a loved one. They would not have the authority to pay bills or make arrangements for care, for example.

Two types of LPA

You can make one or both types of LPA, as well as appoint one or more attorneys to deal with your affairs, should you need help in the future.

Type 1: Property and financial affairs – You can appoint an attorney to deal with your bank account, pay bills on your behalf, sell your home, invest money for you and claim benefits.

Type 2: Health and welfare – Your attorney will make decisions regarding your care, including where you will live and what medical treatments you have. This can include refusing some life-sustaining treatment.

Your attorney can’t use the health and welfare LPA until you are no longer able to make your own decisions.

Signing an LPA if you have dementia

Someone diagnosed with dementia can still make a Lasting Powers of Attorney providing they have the mental capacity to do so.

That person must be able to still:

  • Understand the implications of signing
  • Recall what they have been told about the LPA for long enough to make a decision about whether to sign
  • Consider choices and make their own decision
  • Communicate their decision

I would always advise that if someone has a diagnosis of dementia, they get medical confirmation to confirm they have adequate mental capacity to sign an LPA.

This avoids disputes over the validity of their LPA in the future.

What if there is no LPA in place?

Without an LPA, an application can be made to the Court of Protection for a deputyship order to enable you to deal with someone’s affairs, if they lose the ability to do this for themselves.

Even if you are married to someone, you cannot step in to make decisions on their behalf without legal authority.

Obtaining a deputyship order is complicated and can put families in a tricky place when the application is dealt with as ongoing supervision is required.

Wherever possible, I would advise an LPA is put in place, particularly if someone has been given a dementia diagnosis. This makes things much easier for loved ones.

Here to help

If you would like to speak to me or one of my team regarding putting an LPA in place, we would love to help. Simply call us on 01772 799 600.

 

Article by Zoe Fleming

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