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14 May 2020

Can I make a Lasting Powers of Attorney if I have Dementia?

This week, 11th – 17th May, would have been Dementia Action week, a week where companies and charities come together to raise awareness of the disease and support people living with dementia, unfortunately in light of the current Coronavirus crisis the Alzheimer’s Society has postponed until later in the year.

As a proactive and motivated private client team we strive to raise awareness and counter some of the misconceptions surrounding making a Lasting Powers of Attorney and planning for later life capabilities if you or a family member has been recently been diagnosed with Dementia.

Over the last couple of years the number of Lasting Powers of Attorney enquiries has increased, with campaigns from Alzheimer’s Society, the Office of Public Guardian, and Solicitors for the Elderly raising awareness of the importance of having a valid Lasting Powers of Attorney.

A concern that is often raised when discussing Lasting Powers of Attorney is the question of capacity.

In order to make a valid Lasting Power of Attorney, the person making the document (the Donor) must have the requisite mental capacity to give instructions and understand the nature and effect of the document. For this reason, it is a good idea to put these documents in place when you are fit and well and there is less likelihood of your capacity being affected.

However, if you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia, it does not automatically preclude you/them from making an Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), but is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible as it is likely that a third party capacity assessment is required. If you choose to complete Lasting Powers of Attorneys (LPAs) online when capacity is in question, there is a higher risk of the document being challenged later down the line and the actions of the attorneys questioned.

A solicitor will advise you of the best course of action and engage the services of a capacity assessor on your behalf if required. Unfortunately, GP’s are becoming more and more reluctant to complete these assessments and so a specialist provider will need to be instructed – this comes with an additional cost and can make the process more drawn out.

If it transpires that the Donor does not have capacity to make an Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), your solicitor will be able to give advice on applying for a Deputyship Order with the Court of Protection. The process of applying for Deputyship is extremely costly and in most cases can take up to 12 months.

The best advice when it comes to Lasting Powers of Attorneys (LPAs) is to act early and get them in place long before your capacity may be affected.

Steeles Law Private Client team recently updated their Dementia training, and is incredibly proud to support the Dementia Friends initiative which aims to change people’s perceptions of dementia, and have pledged to take action in raising awareness about the importance of getting legal affairs in order as soon as possible.

What does being a Dementia Friend mean to us?

We asked our team what being a Dementia Friend means to them, here is what they had to say;

Karen BaconBeing a dementia friend has given me a greater understanding of the challenges faced by those with dementia and their carers, and the ability to empathise and provide effective help to them.

Donna TaylorBeing a Dementia Friend means I can understand as far as I am able how  often every day situations become confusing or scary to those with dementia and that allows me to adapt my dealings with my clients so that they can feel as safe and happy as possible in our dealings together.’

Amy TaylorBecoming a Dementia Friend has given me a much better understanding of the challenges faced by someone who is living with dementia.

Katherine BearmanBeing a dementia friend means I can appreciate that Dementia does not affect everyone in the same way and a little more understanding helps how you can communicate with someone living with Dementia.’

Lauren CrosbyBecoming a Dementia Friend has increased my awareness and understanding of Dementia. This has allowed me to adapt my practices to ensure that my clients feel comfortable and at ease throughout the process.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding making a Lasting Powers of Attorney if you or a family member has been diagnosed with Dementia, please contact our dedicated Wills, Trusts and Probate team by calling 01603 598000 or by emailing probate@steeleslaw.co.uk.

*The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

 

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