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How to plan for the future with dementia

Getting organised now means you can feel confident that the care and support you receive in the future will be right for you, and your affairs will be managed in the way you wish.

There are certain things you can do now to sort your legal affairs that could make a real difference down the line.

You can arrange for someone to act on your behalf

You may want to set up a lasting power of attorney (LPA) in case there comes a time when you lose mental capacity. When we talk about 'mental capacity', we mean someone's ability to make and understand the consequences of their decisions. An LPA lets you appoint someone you trust (an 'attorney'), such as a partner or relative, to make decisions on your behalf when you're no longer able to do so. There are two different types of LPA – one for financial decisions, and one for health and care decisions. You have the option to choose more than one attorney. An LPA can't be used until it's been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). It's a good idea to register your LPA as soon as possible after it's made, to make sure it's ready to use if and when it's needed. 

If you lose mental capacity and haven't made an LPA for financial decisions, then a friend, relative or other representative can apply to become your 'appointee' and deal with your State Pension and benefits on your behalf. For other financial decisions, such as those to do with your savings or property, someone willing to act on your behalf can apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your 'deputy'. Usually, it's advisable to plan ahead by making and registering an LPA because this allows you to choose who acts on your behalf and helps avoid a delay between losing mental capacity and others being able to act on your behalf. Click here to find out more about what happens if you lose mental capacity and you don't have an LPA

You should write a will, if you don't already have one

A will lets you state how you'd like your estate (your property, savings, and possessions) to be distributed after you die. If you don't have a will, make one soon as possible – having a will can give you and your loved ones peace of mind. If you already have a will, check it to make sure it still reflects your wishes. 

You can make an advance statement to outline your care preferences

You can make an advance statement to explain you'd like to be cared for in the future. For example, you can specify your religious beliefs, what you like to eat, what kind of music you like to listen to, or anything else you think is important for people to know about how you want to be supported. Advance statements aren't legally binding – but they can be helpful for people involved in your care and reassuring for you. 

You can make an advance decision to refuse medical treatment

An advance decision lets you say which types of medical treatment you don't want in the future. This will only be used if you lose mental capacity, and so can't make or communicate your own decisions at the time the decision needs to be made. You must state the exact treatments you don't want and the circumstances in which you don't want them.

If you intend to refuse life-sustaining treatment, your advance decision needs to be in writing, signed and dated in the presence of a witness who must also sign it. Your advance decision is legally binding, so health professionals must follow it.

How should I plan my financial affairs if I have dementia?

Making sure your finances are in order can help you stay on top of things and give you peace of mind if there comes a time when you can't manage your money yourself.

When dealing with your finances, start by making sure you know where important documents are, such as your mortgage or tenancy agreement, insurance policies, and bank statements.

Think about how you pay your bills

Consider paying your bills by direct debit or standing order – this means you won't forget to pay, as the money will automatically be paid from your account. If you don't use online banking, check your paper bills for details on how to do this. 

Paper bills allow you to make sure you’re paying what you should, but some people find that online banking makes things easier – it saves trips to the bank and allows you to manage your money from home.

Consider setting up your bank account differently

A joint account is a bank account that's held by more than one person. It can be a useful way to get help managing your finances – you can add the name of a friend or relative to your bank account so that they have access to your money if necessary. 

Or you could set up a third-party mandate, which gives someone permission, such as a friend or family member, to manage your bank account.

With both joint accounts and third-party mandates, think carefully about who you choose and make sure it's someone you trust – there's no restriction on their access to the account's funds and, in the case of joint accounts, you may be liable for their debts. 

All third-party mandates and most joint accounts only operate when both people have the capacity to run the account. In this case, it's best to set up an LPA for financial decisions, to avoid problems further down the line.

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Last updated: Apr 08 2024

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