According to the Alzheimer’s Society, one in three people over 65 will develop dementia and this number is only likely to increase as people are living longer.
It is estimated that by 2021, the number of people with dementia in the UK will be at around one million, of which two thirds will be women.
Whilst managing the long term social and health impact of the disease remains a focus for the victims and their families, it is vital that people also take the time to consider their finances and plan for the future.
As dementia begins to debilitate a person’s mental ability, sufferers may find planning and organising more difficult. Maintaining independence may also become a problem and will usually require help in decision making from relatives and / or friends. Whilst a frank conversation can sometimes be awkward and hard, at WHIreland we recommend sitting down with loved ones early upon their diagnosis is best, as this can help make sure they receive the right support. As the illness progresses, more formalised authorities and legal assistance may be required as well as specialist Long Term Care planning (through an Independent Financial Planner) and / or arranging a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Independent Financial Planners that are experienced in later life planning can help and advise on nursing care financing and the options available to you. The place where the person with dementia is cared for is so important and it is a relief for all, knowing relatives are receiving the best treatment within an environment where they feel most relaxed and happy.
An LPA, or Lasting Power of Attorney may also be suggested. This is a legal document which allows someone they trust to make decisions on their behalf at the time they lack the mental capacity to make decisions themselves.
What happens if I don’t get an LPA?
If your loved one has not organised an LPA and is unable to manage their affairs, relatives / friends need to apply to the Court of Protection and fill out an application for dutyship. Without this, one is in no position to freely manage the financial affairs and welfare needs of the person with dementia, which includes securing benefits, arranging appropriate care, accessing pension payments, bank accounts and / or investments. The Court of Protection application process is a lengthy one, often taking up to six months during which finances are frozen. Whilst this is taking place, someone would be required to pay for care costs. There are also costly fees attached when applying to the Court of Protection – the application usually costs £400 with an annual starting fee of around £320. In addition, new deputies are expected to pay a fee of £100.
Being cared for in a constant, stable and relaxed environment is vitally important for a person dealing with dementia. They require special care and understanding from loved ones who know them well and who can act in their best interests. It is therefore important to plan early to avoid every need for later life planning being under the decision of the Court of Protection.
Essential facts about LPAs
- There are two different forms of LPA: one for property and financial affairs and the other for health and personal welfare.
- The two can be formed separately or together.
- You can have more than one Attorney, and choose whether the Attorneys must act together or whether they can also act independently.
- Conditions and restrictions can also be applied to the LPA in how and when it is used.
- It is therefore of great importance that legal advice is sought with regards to arranging a Lasting Power of Attorney that can be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian when it is needed.