An estimated 850,000 Britons are living with dementia, with a new diagnosis every three minutes. Dementia and Alzheimer’s now affect one in every 14 people aged 65+. Loss of mental capacity isn’t just a medical issue, it can also put a financial strain on families. That's why you need to be prepared.

Power play

Every family should consider setting up a legal document called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), even if none of them currently has dementia.

Importantly, you need to do this before the relative loses mental capacity because you cannot do it afterwards.

The LPA is a legal document that gives a relative, carer or friend the power to make decisions on before someone with dementia if they are no longer able to do so. You need to be of sound mind to sign it.

 

Money matters

Dementia sufferers struggle to cope with their everyday finances, such as managing their bank account, paying bills, or selling their property to raise funds for treatment. They may also struggle to make decisions over the type of medical care and treatment they need.

Without an LPA, relatives have no legal authority to step in on their behalf. Instead, they would have to apply to the Court of Protection, or the Sheriff Court in Scotland, for a deputyship order. This is a lengthy and complicated process, adding to family stresses at a difficult time.

It, therefore, makes sense for families to set up an LPA, even where there are no signs of dementia or Alzheimer's at all. Yet less than 15 per cent of UK adults have prepared an LPA, according to research from Co-op Legal Services.

 

Apply online

You can register an LPA online or by making a paper application. There is a registration fee of £82 per application.

You can do it yourself but if you prefer to take legal advice then always check the charges in advance, which can range from £250 to £700 for setting up both types of attorney

 

Get talking

First, you need to tackle the subject with your loved ones, which isn’t always easy. Nobody likes talking about issues such as mental incapacity or death, some may even suspect your motives.

That's why it is worth talking together as a family, and it may be worth appointing more than one attorney. They must be over 18 and cannot be bankrupt. The LPA lasts for a lifetime unless your circumstances change, so it is worth taking the time to get it settled.

Without an LPA, the wrong person could be appointed to look after your affairs. It is worth making the effort to ensure the right person has the power.

 

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