Your legal guide to dealing with dementia

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September is World Alzheimer’s Month; an initiative that is close to our hearts as a dementia friendly law firm. In this blog, Dementia Friends champion and Private Client lawyer, Anna Molter, answers some frequently asked questions about how those with dementia and their loved ones can ensure their legal affairs are in order.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a disease associated with the ongoing decline of the brain’s functionality. There are many different types of dementia, and one type is Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common.

Dementia symptoms can include:

  • Memory loss
  • Thinking speed
  • Trouble ‘finding words’
  • Understanding
  • Making judgements
  • Mood and emotions
  • Physical movement

People living with dementia can also lose interest in their usual activities or hobbies, as well as finding social situations more difficult.

What is a Dementia Friend?

The Dementia Friends programme is an initiative by the Alzheimer’s Society. It aims to remove the stigma around dementia and transform the way we approach the condition.

Over 200 of our staff have chosen to become Dementia Friends, with training delivered by dementia champion, Anna Molter. We believe it’s important that we understand the needs of those living with dementia and their families so that we can provide the best possible service to them. From ensuring our signage is clear, to producing dementia friendly literature and tailoring the way we speak to clients living with dementia, making the smallest of changes can make a huge difference.

Dementia and the Mental Capacity Act

When someone is diagnosed with dementia, it can be difficult for their loved ones to know if or when they need to step in and start making decisions on their behalf. Forgetting little things can turn to forgetting the bigger things over time, and it can be an emotional and stressful time for the person and their family.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 includes guidance on how to decide if someone is able to make decisions for themselves. It also outlines how loved ones can help the person and how to make decisions for them if they are not able to.

One of the most useful suggestions within this guidance is for the person with dementia to take control over decision-making in the future. For example, putting legal documents, such as a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, which outlines who can make decisions about what and when. Not only does this provide peace of mind to the person affected that their affairs will be taken care of as they wish, but for their loved ones to feel confident in knowing exactly what they can and cannot do.

Can someone with dementia make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Yes, a person with dementia can make a Lasting Power of Attorney as long as they have mental capacity. If you have been diagnosed with dementia and you are planning to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, it is advised that you register it as soon as you have filled the forms in.

What happens if there is no Lasting Power of Attorney in place and you lack mental capacity?

A relative or friend can apply to the Court of Protection to become a Deputy for the person who lacks capacity. We have a specialist team who can help with the application and provide advice.

I’ve been diagnosed with dementia, do I need to update my Will?

It is advisable to review your current Will to see if you need to make any adjustments. You can take advice about adding additional provisions to mitigate potential care fees in the future.

Get in touch with our dementia friendly solicitors in Bristol

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia and you would like to find out more about updating a Will or putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, our lawyers are here to help.

Our dementia friendly solicitors work with people across the South West from four of our offices across Bristol and South Gloucestershire in Bishopston, Bedminster, Kingswood and Thornbury. For an initial chat, call us on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.

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