Living with Dementia and Planning Future Care

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Living with Dementia and Planning Future Care

Last week as part of Dementia Awareness week 2019 our Rhys Lewis took part in the Law Society’s Solicitor Chat on Twitter about living with dementia and planning future care.  His replies to the questions are summarised below.

How can a solicitor help someone living with dementia plan for their future?

Appropriate legal advice is important for people and families who are living with dementia. Things can be put in place at an early stage to ensure peace of mind for a person who is suffering with dementia and their relatives. This can be by way of updating their Will and entering into a Lasting Power of Attorney (if they capacity to do so) or, alternatively, making an application to the Court of Protection to appoint a Deputy. If residential care home fees are a consideration for the person with dementia, then a solicitor can provide advice in this respect. 

What are Lasting Powers of Attorney and what do they cover?

They are documents that enable a ‘donor’ to appoint an ‘attorney’ or ‘attorneys’ to make decisions on their behalf. There are two different types of LPA: one for financial decisions (which includes buying or selling property, paying bills, investing money etc) and one for health decisions (which includes decisions about medical care, where the donor should live, what activities the donor should take part in and even things as simple as what the donor should eat).

They can only be entered into if the donor has the mental capacity to do so but once they are registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, they will remain valid until the donor dies or cancels it.  

Even if a person is not suffering with any form of mental condition, a Lasting Power of Attorney can be created at an early course and kept in storage just in case it is ever required. This ensures that you have someone you trust implicitly managing your affairs should you not be able to.

What is a deputy and how can you become one?

A deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection to manage the affairs of someone who lacks mental capacity. This would be appropriate way forward if a person has already lost mental capacity and cannot create a Lasting Power of Attorney. To become a deputy, you must apply to the Court of Protection by completing several application forms and paying the appropriate fee(s).  A Solicitor can assist with completing the application forms. 

What is an advance statement and how can it help someone living with dementia?

When a person lacks mental capacity and there is no Lasting Power of Attorney or Court appointed Deputy in place, then decisions about a person’s care or wellbeing are taken by a professional such as a Doctor. In these circumstances an Advance Statement helps to ensure that a person’s wishes in respect of their care are considered when these decisions are made. It is not a legally binding document but in practice it must be considered by professionals if they are deciding what is in a person’s best interests.

What advice would you give to someone living with dementia when it comes to planning for the future?

Take appropriate legal advice at an early course. If a person has any significant assets (property, pension, savings etc) the quicker things are put in place for the future the better. If a person has any specific wishes in terms of care either just by personal choice or by way of religious values or beliefs, a Solicitor can assist to ensure that these wishes are protected.

If you would like to make a Will or a Lasting Power of Attorney, please contact Rhys Lewis or Nick Passey in our Conwy office on 596596, or Phil Kentish in our Llandudno office on 874774.