Alzheimer’s or Dementia Worries? Friend or Relative?

dementia or Alzheimer's worries?
Not just the old.

Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia? Or worried that a friend or relative, husband or wife or parent might be suffering? They can still potentially can potentially make or update a Will (remember, a lot of tax Law has changed) or Lasting Powers of Attorney provided they have the ability to understand the decisions they are making at the time they sign the Will or Lasting Power of Attorney. Our system makes this especially easy.

For advice: 01323 741200

Without these plans in place, their family will have no control over your finances or welfare should you be adjudged unable to make your own decisions. And this includes joint accounts and joint property. Without such plans in place, while they are alive, a Court appointed Deputy (usually a solicitor or the Local Authority) will make your decisions at their expense. Sometimes family members are appointed, but it is a long and not inexpensive process, and they may not be accepted by the Court of Protection.

If the bank should suspect they have lost mental capacity, they will freeze any account with their name on it whether joint or not, until they have proof that there is legal authority to manage their affairs.   This can take as long as 12 months through the Court of Protection if Lasting Powers of Attorney are not in place and registered.   It is also likely that the Local Authority will take action on Welfare matters should they disagree with what is happening. At the time of writing, to get Lasting Powers of Attorney written and then it takes around 20 weeks+ to register (so you can use it) through insane delays at the Office of the Public Guardian.

For advice: 01323 741200

If they have only recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, they could get their legal affairs in order while still clearly having the ability to make such decisions. As part of this, they get to decide who they wish to make decisions for them in the future should they be unable. If they don’t make the Lasting Powers of Attorney in advance, then the Local Authority and ultimately the Courts will do so – at your expense.   Some people even end up with a solicitor managing their lives, once again, at the individuals expense. When they die, an Act of Parliament will decide how your assets are distributed according to the strict Rules of Intestacy, though there may be an old and probably tax inefficient Last Will which will take precedence.

Clearly such a diagnosis is upsetting, and it is not the ideal time to update Legal Planning, but leave it too long and they won’t get a say in how they and their assets are treated.

Can Make a Will with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Dementia?

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia doesn’t automatically mean you suddenly can’t make any decisions for yourself. But as your symptoms progress, you might struggle to think about complex financial issues and deciding who should inherit your Estate is a really important decision. The more advanced the disease, the easier it is for someone to challenge the validity of any Legal Planning you do, so prompt action is prudent. Our system is a gentle process which gives you time to think, as well as a chance to discuss the issues with us as professionals. You do need a little time to recover from the diagnosis, so rushing headlong and making snap decisions is not ideal.

After the early stages, only a healthcare or other qualified professional can then judge if you have the mental capacity to make a Will, or any other important decisions, and that does add significantly to costs.   As Professional Will Writers, our mental capacity expertise ends after the early stages, and then things start to get more complicated.

If the dementia progresses to a point where a decision can no longer be made then a Will can only be made by applying to the Court of Protection for a Statutory Will.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets people you choose make important decisions for you. They should clearly be people you trust. The attorneys are required to act in your best interests, though some sadly do not, and risk Court action.

There are two types of LPAs and you can have different people to make the decisions (called “attorneys”) on each type should you so wish.   Sometimes practical people are better suited to finance and property matters, and others to making more emotional decisions.

  1. Property and Finance

These give the power to make financial decisions for you, after discussion with you if possible. That attorney or attorneys (the people appointed by you) can make these decisions as soon as the LPA is registered, if you wish them too help make your life easier immediately.   Interestingly, the Property and Finance attorneys have the ability to sell your home and buy you something more suitable – but the Health and Welfare attorneys make the decision to move you – if you can’t make that decision yourself of course.

  1. Health and Welfare

This gives someone the power to make decisions regarding your health and personal welfare and can only be used if you lack the ability to decide for yourself, despite as much help as possible.

Matters included are medical issues, where you live, who you see, diet and all welfare related matters.

If you are referred to your local memory clinic or GP surgery has advised you to update your Will or seek advice regarding an LPA, or if you’d like to put LPAs in place to save your loved ones the time and stress of applying to be a Deputy, now is the time to get your skates on and give us a call to sort things out as long as you are based in England or Wales, so why not call today, or use the enquiry form?