By 2021, there will be one million people in the UK with dementia. The diagnosis of a loved one can bring unexpected challenges to family and friends as they begin to understand the ramifications of dementia. One often overlooked problem is the potential for fraud and financial abuse that dementia sufferers can be vulnerable to.
A 2011 report by the Alzheimer’s Society into financial abuse encountered by dementia sufferers shed light on this major problem and called for strong measures to prevent people falling victim.
Managing the finances of dementia sufferers
The symptoms of dementia affect a person’s ability to manage their finances due to their decreasing cognitive abilities. The Alzheimer’s Society found that 76% of sufferers had experienced difficulties in managing their finances. But despite this, even in the later stages of dementia, many want to stay involved in the management of their money. Talking openly, honestly and continually with anyone affected by dementia is imperative in order to best understand their wishes, help them with managing their money and assets, and ultimately minimise their risk of abuse as their condition deteriorates.
The risk of financial fraud for dementia sufferers
The cognitive impairments caused by dementia can make individuals vulnerable to fraud and unscrupulous behaviour, such as cold calling, rogue traders and postal scams. It’s also a shocking reality that sufferers can be at risk from abuse from family, friends and carers. With these sobering facts in mind, it is important that proper safeguarding measures are implemented, not only alongside local and community support, but by taking steps such as creating a Lasting Power of Attorney and making a Will.
Ensuring the proper care of a loved one with dementia
Given that dementia worsens over time, suffers often decide to draw up an advance care plan in the early stages of diagnosis. Creating a Health and Care Lasting Power of Attorney means that their care is handled by a person of their choosing once their mental capacity deteriorates to a point where they can no longer handle their affairs. This kind of LPA ensures treatment and care preferences are known and executed by the nominated Lasting Power of Attorney.
Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney can be a complex matter, involving the submission of various forms and statements. Although it is not compulsory to use a solicitor to create and register an LPA, it can ensure that all essentials and eventualities are covered and completed. A solicitor is also a neutral party in helping you make difficult decisions during challenge circumstances.
Protecting the financial assets of someone suffering with dementia
Creating a Lasting Power of Attorney gives a trusted individual the legal authority to make decisions. This can be when an individual becomes mentally incapable, or simply when they no longer wish to make decisions for themselves. A Financial Decisions LPA gives a nominated individual the legal authority to pay bills and a mortgage as well as larger financial decisions involving buying and selling property and responsibility for investments.
A Financial Decisions LPA can protect a dementia sufferer against financial abuse when they are no longer able to make the decisions they would have done before the onset of the illness. If someone is too ill to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, a friend or relative can apply to the Court of Protection to be appointment a Deputy for someone’s affairs.
Making a Will if you have dementia
A Will is an important legal document that ensures that an individual’s wishes and intentions are upheld and legal when they die. In the case of those affected with dementia, making a Will early in diagnosis ensures their wishes are conveyed before their mental capacity deteriorates. Even those who have an existing Will are encouraged to re-evaluate their Will every few years to ensure it accurately reflects their wishes and circumstances.
Find out more about Edward Hayes LLP and how we can help you set up a Lasting Power of Attorney or make a Will – contact us now on 01243 781431 (during office hours) or 0800 085 9684 (out of hours) or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org