This September is World Alzheimer’s Month, with World Alzheimer’s Day falling on September 21st. As you’re encouraged to take the time to increase your awareness of the physical symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, it’s also important to make sure your wellbeing and financial affairs are protected in the event you become mentally incapacitated due to dementia. The importance of doing this becomes clear when you consider that there are currently around 46 million people across the world living with dementia and this number is forecast to rise to over 131 million by 2050.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
Early signs of dementia can include memory loss, personality changes, problems undertaking everyday tasks and issues with language. Due to the fear and stigmatisation that still exists around dementia, many sufferers and their families dismiss the early symptoms as a natural part of getting older. However, Alzheimer’s disease is caused by nerve cells dying and damaging the structure and chemistry of the brain. So although it’s perfectly normal to be a bit forgetful from time to time, dementia should never be dismissed as a natural part of ageing. However, long before you feel dementia could be a potential threat, it’s important to make sure your will is up to date and that you have the two necessary lasting powers of attorney (LPA) in place to protect you in the event you become mentally incapacitated.
What is a lasting power of attorney?
An LPA is a legal document where you (the donor), appoint one or more people as your attorney. This means that in the event of you being unable to make important decisions by yourself due to an accident or illness such as dementia, your chosen attorney will be legally authorised to make decisions on your behalf. One LPA covers health and welfare and the other safeguards property and financial affairs. At Bray & Bray, we can guide you through every part of the process of arranging both to ensure peace of mind both now and into the future.
The benefits of an LPA
Arranging an LPA is crucial for two reasons. Firstly, you can rest assured that you have taken control over what happens to you and your assets in the event that you become incapacitated. Secondly, you will be safe in the knowledge that the best interests of both you and your loved ones are protected. Also, it’s worth remembering that although LPAs exist to protect the rights of the person who is mentally incapacitated, the overwhelming majority of people would not want to leave their family to deal with the consequences of them not having one.
What happens if I don’t have an LPA?
If you become mentally incapacitated without an LPA your assets will be frozen while your family members go through the process of applying for a court order which can take up to six months. However, although finances are frozen, bills and any care costs still need to be paid. Obtaining a court order costs £850 plus VAT and the combined cost of applying to the court of protection and nominating a deputy to act on your behalf is around £500, with added costs for annual reviews of the situation. And of course, all this comes at an already difficult and upsetting time.
I’m fit and healthy – do I need an LPA?
We all hope we will never need an LPA, however with the number of UK citizens suffering from dementia due to soar from 850,000 in 2018 to 1 million in 2025 and 2 million by 2051, it can be argued that getting an LPA is as important as making a will or taking out life insurance. However, despite this, recent research shows that 84% of UK adults do not have an LPA. Also, as LPAs are designed to protect your interests when circumstances mean you are no longer in a position to do so yourself, it’s incredibly important to get this in place before your ability to make important legal decisions can be questioned.
Can I arrange my own lasting power of attorney?
Yes. You can make an LPA online at https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney, for a fee of £82 (£164 for the two types you will need). However, it’s important to remember that an LPA is a powerful legal document so it’s well worth taking the advice of a specialist solicitor when setting one up, particularly if you need to take into account family issues or complex financial affairs. At Bray & Bray, we can you with competitive fees for our comprehensive LPA service.
Expert advice on LPAs and wills
To make sure you have taken care of you and your family’s future in the event that you become mentally incapacitated due to dementia call Bray & Bray at our office nearest to you: