Dementia: Securing an LPA before It’s Too Late

18 May 2017

By Head of Wills, Solicitor James Antoniou

In our ageing population, illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s are becoming increasingly common. And while it may never happen to you, it’s better to be prepared for the future by putting a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place now, before it’s too late.

Planning for the future

The charity Alzheimer’s Research UK estimate that there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, a condition that happens when the brain is damaged, resulting in symptoms such as memory loss and confusion.

If you know someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you’ll know how devastating these illnesses can be – not only for the individual, but also for their family members.

Of course none of us think that it’s going to happen to us. Thinking of a time when you can no longer remember important events, or understand the world around you, is unimaginable.

And hopefully you will never suffer an illness such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, but isn’t it better to be prepared, just in case?

Many people assume that there’s nothing they can do to plan. If they do lose mental capacity in the future, they suppose their loved ones can take over their affairs, and things will carry on in that way for as long as needed.

However, it doesn’t quite work like that because your loved ones won’t have the legal authority to deal with your affairs. Therefore they’d need to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship, a process that can be both expensive and long-winded.

To prevent your loved ones having to apply for a Deputyship Order from the Court, you can make a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a legal document that gives a nominated person the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf, if there ever comes a time when you can’t make these decisions for yourself.

So there is something you can do to plan for the future – you can make a Lasting Power of Attorney.

When Make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

The crucial thing about a Lasting Power of Attorney is that you must make it before you lose mental capacity. This means you have to put it in place before you develop an illness such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, which could prevent you from understanding the nature and effect of a Lasting Power of Attorney.

Seeing as none of us knows what’s round the corner, you should make plans before it’s too late. If you do lose mental capacity, you won’t legally be able to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, so your loved one’s would have to apply for a Deputyship order from the Court.

For more details see What Happens if I Don’t Make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

It’s important to know that a Lasting Power of Attorney doesn’t necessarily come into effect immediately. You can have one in place, ready to be used if you do lose mental capacity. If this never happens, your Lasting Power of Attorney will never be needed. But as the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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