World Alzheimer’s Day: Three-step plan to get your legal affairs in order
21 September 2017 is World Alzheimer’s Day. To mark the occasion, and help raise awareness of the issues faced by dementia suffers and their families, Deborah Adams, head of private client department with Parnalls Solicitors in Launceston, provides an overview of the practical legal steps you can take to help protect yourself and your loved ones.
‘Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and affects millions of people around the world. Receiving a diagnosis can be devastating and immediate thoughts will inevitably turn to treatment and healthcare support. However, it is also important to think about the legal and financial implications of a disease that will erode your ability to make decisions for yourself. Dealing with these issues at an early stage, while you still have the mental capacity to do so, is crucial and can go a long way to giving you much needed peace of mind,’ says Deborah Adams.
To ensure that, if you become unable to make decisions for yourself, decisions made by others on your behalf accord (as far as possible) with your wishes, you should consider making a lasting power of attorney, an advance decision and statement, a will and a letter of wishes. You need to do this at the earliest opportunity and before your illness renders you incapable of making fully-informed decisions for yourself.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney lets you appoint people you know and trust to make decisions on your behalf and enables you to give guidance to those people on how decisions affecting you should be made. There are two types of power of attorney:
- a health and welfare power, which covers decisions about your health and personal wellbeing, including how you should be cared for, the sorts of medical treatment that should be administered and where you should live; and
- a property and financial affairs power, which covers decisions about your finances and assets, such as the running of your bank accounts, claiming any benefits you may be entitled to and deciding whether any property you own ought to be sold.
Although it is possible to make one power of attorney covering, for example, just your health and welfare or just your property and finances, Deborah Adams advises making both to ensure all decisions that may need to be made on your behalf are covered.
There are safeguards in place to ensure that someone you choose to appoint as your attorney does not abuse their position and you can always elect to appoint a professional advisor, such as your solicitor or accountant, to oversee things and ensure your affairs are properly managed.
If you are a family member who is worried that their relative has already lost mental capacity and is therefore not able to make a power of attorney, do not despair. It is still possible for you to help make decisions for them by applying to the Court of Protection to become what is known as a deputy. If you require advice on this, please contact us.
Advance decisions and statements on health and care issues
An advance decision enables you to decide for yourself whether you want to receive certain sorts of treatment, including treatment that might be needed to keep you alive. Advance decisions, once made, are legally binding and must be respected.
Advance statements enable you to explain how you would like to be cared for on a day-to-day basis and the factors those making decisions for you should bear in mind to take account of your views on certain matters, such as where you would prefer to live, who you would prefer to care for you and the importance you attach to being well-groomed and well presented. Although not legally binding, anyone making decisions on your behalf must have regard to any wishes you have expressed in an advance statement.
Wills and letters of wishes
Making a will enables you to decide how your money and property should be dealt with when you die. It also provides an opportunity for you and your solicitor to consider your needs while you are still alive and to explore the options for funding those needs while still enabling you to pass on an inheritance to your loved ones. Investigations can be made to determine whether you would qualify for help with the cost of any care you may need and to help you demonstrate that you meet the qualifying criteria.
If the value of your assets is likely to exceed the level at which inheritance tax becomes payable then advice can also be given on the steps you can lawfully take to reduce your potential liability and therefore the amount of tax that must be paid.
Where any provision of your will may be controversial or come as a surprise to your relatives, and therefore lead them to question whether you knew what you were doing at the time your will was made, a letter of wishes can be used to rationalize your decision and explain why you have chosen to act as you have. This can help reduce the potential for conflict between family members after your death.
Planning ahead is the key to making life for you and your loved ones as easy as possible following the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia.
For a confidential discussion about any of the issues raised in this article, and for help making a will or a lasting power of attorney and an advance decision or statement, please contact Deborah Adams or Jonathan Pounder on 01566 772375 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Deborah Adams can also help if you need advice on accessing funding for care costs from the NHS or your local authority, or if you are concerned that a relative with dementia is being held against their will or mistreated in a hospital or care home.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
Preparing to sell your Launceston property
Staying safer in video meetings
Making Sure Your Great New Home Comes With Clean Air
Property Market Re-Opens in England
Coronavirus: Wills and Powers of Attorney FAQ
Medical Care Received Not Up to Scratch?
Had an Accident in Someone's Home?
Accident or Injury Involving a Dog?
Social Distancing No Obstacle for Parnall's Mobile Document Signing Team
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Commercial Property Legal FAQs
Rent Charge Suspensions: Protecting Your Interests
Been Asked to Sign an Employment Settlement Agreement? Seek Advice Urgently...
Services Update: Continuity of Legal Service Provision
Advising You in Uncertain Times
Could carelessness on social media land you in court?
Is an electronic signature on a commercial property document acceptable?
What happens when there is no health & care LPA in place
Social Media Training for Businesses
Information to gather for your probate solicitor
Gazundering, what it is and how to avoid it
Relief from forfeiture – what happens if the tenant forgets to pay the rent?
Not so safe at work - compensation for an accident at work
New organ donation law: giving you control
Running a business from home
Have nude photos of you or your teenager been posted online?
Landowners’ rights and the Electronic Communications Code
Building in your back garden
Christmas is a time for giving (and inheritance planning)
Buying the freehold of your leasehold house
Redeveloping an empty pub for commercial use
Why it takes time to obtain the Grant of Probate
Social Media: The unconscious privacy threat
Is your reputation being threatened?
Making a will after your spouse or partner has died
Interns celebrate completion of internship at solicitors
Selling your home in a flat market, some top tips
Claiming compensation for a serious road traffic accident
New Media and Communications Court list reflects surge in internet defamation claims by Laura Baglow
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
The risks of DIY probate
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Making a will when you retire
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Five problems with a leasehold property
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Valuing an estate for probate
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.