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21 Sep 2020

Wills & Probate

Plan for the future this World Alzheimer’s Day

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day. Every year, for the last nine years, a campaign has been run globally in September to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, with others including vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and fronto-temporal dementia. Although the condition is more common than ever, with numbers set to rise further as people continue to live longer, there are still many stigmas and misconceptions surrounding the disease.

The theme for this year’s campaign is therefore ‘Let’s Talk About Dementia’. The organisers want to raise awareness of how it impacts the daily lives of not only those people who are personally affected by the condition, but also their carers, friends and family who have to live under tremendous strain once the diagnosis is received.

The statistics are frightening. Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face, with nearly 50 million people living with the condition worldwide. 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have the condition and over 42,000 people under 65 are affected too.

And yet, even though one person in the UK develops dementia every three minutes, their relatives can’t just walk into a bank and access their money, even if it is to pay for their care.

None of us like to dwell too much on the unpleasant things that could happen to us as we get older. But although it can be a difficult thing to think about, it is really important to plan ahead just in case we, or anyone we know, are unfortunate enough to develop dementia or any other degenerative mental illness.

You may have heard of a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a legal document which allows you to appoint someone to make decisions for you if you lose mental capacity in the future. Without this, your loved ones have to apply through the courts for the right to manage your financial affairs, which can be a long and costly process.

There are two types of LPA, one for financial decisions and one for health and care. Both LPAs should be prepared when you are fit and well and able to plan for the future.

Once your LPA has been signed by you and your Attorneys, it should be sent to the Office of the Public Guardian for validation.  The Office of the Public Guardian charge a fee of £82 for each separate document and their validation process takes approximately 8 to 10 weeks. If you earn less than £12,000 a year, you may be entitled to a reduced fee. We would advise you to use a solicitor so you’ll also have to pay their legal fees.

It is also worth business owners considering putting in place a separate LPA for financial decisions to appoint Attorneys in relation to their business affairs, should they develop dementia or lose mental capacity. Consideration must be given to the business’ own separate legal documentation, for example, your Partnership Agreement or your company’s Articles of Association, which may need to be amended to allow an Attorney to act in relation to the business if necessary.

Although legal documents such as LPAs will be the last thing on your mind if you or a loved one suspect you may have dementia, it is a crucial aspect of planning for the future.

If you’re at all unsure about the process or want advice on why or how to set one up, it is worth seeking legal help. At Harding Evans, our team of friendly, sympathetic expert lawyers have years of experience in dealing with LPAs and can help guide you through the process. Visit our website at www.hardingevans.com, email hello@hevans.com or call 01633 244233 or 029 2267 6818.

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