Category Archives: Mental Capacity

Before You Forget…

At breakfast this morning, a woman said to her husband: “My memory is getting really poor, I went upstairs yesterday to get something and by the time I got to the top of the stairs I had forgotten what I was going for.”

The husband said: “How bad is your memory?”

She responded: “Sorry, what were we talking about?”

Old jokes are always the best, but early signs of a loss of memory are an uncomfortable reminder of the aging process and certainly no joke.  Some of us will inevitably get dementia or other debilitating conditions that could result in the loss of mental capacity.

Do you know you what happens if you or your partner becomes unable to make decisions for themselves due to old-age memory issues or dementia? Potentially you can find yourself in a position where you cannot pay for services or make decisions, without lawyers and something called the Court of Protection) being involved. It’s an expensive and long-winded process. That is, unless you have written a legal document called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in advance of your loss of mental capacity.

The Citizens Advice Bureau website says:

You should make an LPA if you have been diagnosed with, or think you might develop, an illness which might prevent you from making decisions for yourself at some time in the future.

 “The kinds of illness which might prevent you from making decisions for yourself include:

  • dementia
  • mental health problems
  • brain injury
  • alcohol or drug misuse
  • the side-effects of medical treatment
  • any other illness or disability.

“You must make an LPA whilst you are still capable of making decisions for yourself. This is called having mental capacity”

At legalmatters, we are experts in writing Lasting Powers of Attorney and talking you through the pitfalls. Whilst no one wants to think about the potential of problems in later life, writing an LPA could save you and your family considerable cost and grief in the not too distant future.

Call us today on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk for a no obligation discussion about these issues.

Lasting Power of Attorney – Planning for the Unexpected

Dementia is a growing problem in the UK. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are currently 850,000 people with dementia, and that number is set to reach one million by 2025.

At some point, many people with dementia will reach the stage where they are unable to make decisions for themselves. As a result, it is very important that somebody is nominated to have lasting power of attorney (LPA).

An LPA allows that person – known legally as your ‘attorney’ – to make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer in a position to make them yourself. There are two types of LPA – a property and finances LPA and a health and care LPA. You don’t have to make both at the same time.

Choosing the right person to act on your behalf can be very difficult, so it pays to take your time and not rush the decision. They will have to be over 18, and if making financial and property decisions, cannot have been declared bankrupt.

You will need to appoint someone that you trust, who you believe knows you well and will act in your best interests. You also need to find someone who is reliable, and who has the necessary skills to take on the responsibility. There is little point picking someone who knows you well, but who will be unreliable in meeting their obligations. Your attorney needs to be someone that you can always rely on.

Most people pick a family member, such as their partner or child, but you can appoint a professional, such as a solicitor if you prefer. Bear in mind that they may charge for their time.

You should also consider picking a replacement attorney. This is the person you wish to make decisions on your behalf should the first attorney no longer be able to or is unwilling to carry out the role. So, if you pick your partner for example, you may choose to select someone younger such as one of your children as the replacement attorney.

For help with this, call us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

A Good Decision

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia knocked heart disease off the top of the list for main causes of death in England and Wales for the first time. Here, we offer advice on planning for the future.

In 2015, 61,686 out of a total of 529,655 deaths registered in England and Wales were attributable to dementia, according to a report just published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – that’s 11.6%. The mortality rate for dementia has more than doubled since 2010 and the Alzheimer’s Society estimates that one million people will have the condition in the UK by 2025.

This statistic raises important questions for families around writing wills. When a person is diagnosed with dementia, it’s a good idea to get their legal and financial affairs in order and give a friend or relative lasting power of attorney. This helps in the future in case there is a point when the dementia sufferer can’t make decisions for themselves.

Indeed, the Alzheimer’s Society recommends this in its ‘Planning Ahead’ guidebook for people with dementia: “Once you have had a chance to adjust to manage another person’s affairs. So if a dementia sufferer hasn’t made an LPA, their loved ones will need to apply to the Court of Protection to become their deputy in order to manage finances on their behalf. It’s doable but it can be stressful, time consuming and expensive.

There are two separate categories of LPA – one around finances and another around health and care. Each has to be set up individually and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

You should take legal advice on these very important documents and certain wishes may have to be drafted carefully. Our lawyers at legalmatters have been safeguarding family’s futures since the inception of LPAs in 2007 and with their predecessors, enduring powers of attorney, before that. Call us now on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk for advice to ensure that, should you become incapacitated, your life is in the good hands of people you love.your diagnosis, take time to ensure your affairs are in order.

It may become more difficult for you to make decisions or choices about financial or legal matters as time goes on. Where possible, make these plans as early as you can with a trusted friend, family member or professional (choose someone who is likely to be able to support you as time goes on).”

One of the most important aspects of forward planning for everyone, particularly if dementia runs in the family is to investigate making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). An LPA enables someone to choose who they want to make decisions for them, should they become unable. Those decisions could be around their financial and property concerns or their health and welfare. This may also cover deciding whether they should go into a care home.

If a person with dementia hasn’t made an LPA and loses the ability to make decisions, the situation for loved ones can be complicated – and distressing. In the case of financial decisions, for example, only someone with a formal legal power can completely

Jimmy Hill: Care and Capacity- Why Make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

With the news that the former footballer Jimmy Hill is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease came the accompanying stories that his family are in dispute over his care. Such circumstances are worryingly common, but can usually be avoided.

The former Match of the Day presenter was the first English club chairman to abolish standing at matches and was a well-known figure in the profession. Jimmy Hill gave joint powers of attorney to his current wife and a solicitor in 2005. By 2008, Jimmy Hill’s condition became such that he was deemed to have lost mental capacity, and the Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) was registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, meaning that his wife and the solicitor could take over management of his affairs. The person who makes the power of attorney (‘donor’) cannot alter the identity of his attorneys after he loses mental capacity, so Jimmy Hill’s choice of attorneys was binding and what followed was that his children have no say in the running of his affairs.

EPAs were replaced from 1 October 2007 by Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA’s) which have the same effect.

Jimmy Hill’s five children (from his previous marriages) only discovered the existence of the EPA in 2008, and they did not find out that they were not named as attorneys until the EPA was registered. Understandably, their lack of involvement caused friction in the family.

This case has attracted significant media attention as two of Jimmy Hill’s children made the news of his condition public in an effort to raise awareness regarding the problems around mental capacity. Joanna Hill, Jimmy’s daughter has commented that children should talk to their parents and discuss how affairs should be dealt with before deterioration sets in.

This high-profile case highlights the need to make a power of attorney and to choose your attorneys carefully. Opting for a power of attorney can involve emotional decisions, but in the long run it is more desirable for both the individual and their family. Without an LPA, people are powerless to do even the most simple things on their relatives’ behalf- there would be the need to apply to the Court of Protection which is a lengthy and costly process.

Legalmatters can assist here by offering an affordable, fixed-fee Estate Protection package (Will and LPA). Avoid unnecessary uncertainty for your family.