You may have heard in the news about the most recent Alzheimer’s breakthrough, regarding the new drug Donanemab. A recent trial of the Donanemab drug has proven to drastically reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s in its patients.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of Dementia. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly affects and destroys memories and skills and the ability to carry out simple everyday tasks, eventually leaving you unable to make your own decisions or voice your wants and needs in relation to your medical needs or financial choices.
You may be thinking, who will be able to make these decisions on your behalf, should your life be changed by a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Whilst you still have the mental capacity, you are able to put in place Lasting Powers of Attorney as a precaution for the future.
What is an Lasting Power of Attorney and why should I get one?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people as your attorney’s. It is a formal agreement between you and a trusted relative or friend (or professional). They will help you make decisions or make decisions on your behalf, regarding your health or financial affairs, in the event that you become incapacitated and are no longer able to make these decisions for yourself. This could be because of an accident or illness that means you lack mental capacity.
There are two types of LPA. They are Health and Welfare, and Property and Financial affairs. You do not have to do both. However, it will ease the stress of dealing with financial matters on your own either now or in the future, it offers your loved ones protection should they need to act for your in future.
Health and Welfare
This type of LPA will give your attorney power to help make decisions regarding your medical care and treatments.
With a Health and Welfare LPA, it is possible to discuss your wishes with your trusted attorneys, so they may understand what you will want and need in relation to your care, should you lose the capacity to make these decisions.
This LPA can only be used once you no longer have the capacity to make your own decisions.
Property and Financial
This LPA will give your attorney’s the power to be able to make decisions regarding your money and property. They will be able to help manage your bank accounts, pay bills and help to sell your home.
You are able to choose whether you give your attorney’s full power to deal with your financial affairs or only certain things, for example, management of your bank account.
A property and financial LPA can be used as soon as it is registered.
Both LPA’s will cease once you pass away. This means that your attorneys will no longer be able to use the LPAs to manage your affairs. This power would move to the Executors of your Will.
This LPA can be used as soon as the document is registered, for example if you had an illness or accident which meant you were bedbound and unable to get to the bank.
Who should I appoint as my attorneys?
It is important to know that your next of Kin does not legally have the right to make health or financial decisions on your behalf.
Your appointed attorney should be someone you trust, and you know who will act in your best interest, as they will be making important decisions on your behalf.
What happens if I don’t have an LPA and I lose capacity?
If you do not make a Power of Attorney and become unable to make decisions for yourself, there may be no one with the legal power to act on your behalf. This can make dealing with your finances and future decisions very difficult.
If you lose capacity and don’t have a Power of Attorney, an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection. The court will decide based on evidence provided whether or not you have mental capacity to make your own decisions, make orders relating to your health or financial decisions and appoint a deputy to make decisions on your behalf.
The cost of a Lasting Power of Attorney is significantly cheaper than a deputyship. The cost to register an LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian is £82. The Court of Protection application fee is £371. There are also other costs including a yearly fee due after the deputy has been appointed. Many families are faced with costly and lengthy court applications to deal with a loved one’s affairs, if there is no Power of Attorney in place to cover the situation. The process to becoming a Deputy is much lengthier, complicated and more expensive. Ther are also ongoing requirements that a Deputy must fulfil such as paying an annual fee and also submitting an annual report, which are not required of an Attorney.
It is therefore highly recommended that you make provision for an Attorney now, rather than having someone having to become your Deputy further down the line.
If you have any questions about Lasting Power of Attorney, or have any concerns about Alzheimer’s or Dementia, not only are our Private Client Team on hand to offer legal advice, but many of the team are also “Dementia Friends”. You can be confident in knowing that the team have the knowledge, understanding and compassion to assist you.
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