A diagnosis of dementia places a strain not only on the person trying to cope with the condition, but also on close family members and friends who often feel powerless to help. Once the diagnosis of dementia is confirmed, it’s vital to start organising one’s financial and legal affairs and preparing for the possibility that the person living with dementia may at some point not be able to make sound decisions about their own wellbeing.
Making legal arrangements
Prepare for the future by planning ahead.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, making the necessary legal arrangements as soon as possible will save a lot of stress and heartache at a later stage. Gaining the legal right to make decisions on a loved one’s behalf could be far more difficult when they are no longer mentally capable, and it can become a lengthy legal battle with the courts that is emotionally exhausting and financially expensive.
If you are not sure of the options available to you and your family, there are three legal routes that can be pursued.
Lasting Power of Attorney
A common way to ensure assistance is continually provided for a loved one with dementia is to arrange a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This legal document entrusts an ‘attorney’ or ‘attorneys’ (who can be a family member or close friend) to make important decisions based around finance, property, welfare and more.
However, it is important to note that an LPA can only be applied for while the person with dementia has mental capacity.
Anyone who is over 18 and mentally capable can be named as an attorney. More than one person can also share the same authority. The two types of LPA available are as follows.
- An LPA for all financial and property related matters
- An LPA related to the patient’s health and welfare
While the person with dementia may still enjoy many more years of being capable, an LPA provides assurance that in the future, the person responsible for their welfare will be someone they know and trust. The person with dementia should be included in any decisions about their care for as long as possible, although it should be expected that there may be a time when that’s no longer possible.
If a power of attorney has not been arranged by the person living with dementia, a guardianship can be sought as an alternative.
Also sometimes called a conservatorship, guardianship requires the carer to apply to the court so that the person with dementia – legally referred to as the ward – can be legally declared incompetent. The final decision will be based on information provided by neutral medical experts.
Responsibility for handling medical, living and financial decisions will then be transferred to the applicant if the court rules the ward is incompetent.
Court of Protection deputies
If it is too late to apply for a lasting power of attorney, it’s still possible to make an application to the Court of Protection to become a decision-making ‘deputy’.
There are two types of deputy roles available.
- Property and financial affairs deputy who enables the carer to organise bill payments and pension details.
- Personal welfare deputy who provides control over medical based decisions.
A deputy is given the same autonomy as they would have with a lasting power of attorney or guardianship, allowing the individual to manage the affairs of someone with diminished mental capacity.
Call Eldermera today to arrange future care
Major organisations like Alzheimer’s UK and the NHS recommend that legal concerns should be addressed as soon as possible after a diagnosis of dementia is confirmed. The care advocates and legal experts at Eldermera have years of experience with arranging Lasting Powers of Attorney, guardianships or any kind of advance decisions for people who are living with dementia. When it comes to dementia, time is of the essence and arrangements for care should be made as soon as possible to avoid problems in the future.
To find out how Eldermera can help your family make legal arrangements for the future, use our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our expert care advocates.
Alternatively, call us on:
0330 022 5778
0207 030 4923