Simplified system will safeguard Dementia sufferers

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One in three people over 65 will die with dementia and many are leaving it too late to appoint someone they trust to make decisions on their behalf.

Latest statistics show that around two million people in England and Wales lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves and 15,000 people under the age of 65 have dementia.

But this month sees the introduction of a simplified way to appoint someone to look after things, if you become incapable of doing so yourself.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) were first introduced two years ago and they allow individuals to appoint someone to act as their attorney, to deal with their personal welfare or their financial affairs.

The LPA replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs) and offered two advantages. Firstly they settled any worry about someone being pressured into the agreement, as an independent person has to certify in the LPA that the donor understands what they are doing and has not been the victim of undue influence.

Secondly, under the old-style EPA an attorney was only authorised to deal with the donor’s finances, but LPAs can be used to cover personal welfare as well.

For health and welfare LPAs, this can include the attorney making decisions on areas such as medical treatment and where the donor lives. The attorney can even be given authority to refuse life sustaining treatment.

Although the launch of LPAs was welcomed two years ago, they have been criticised for their length and lack of user-friendliness. The Office of the Public Guardian has now launched a shorter and simpler form. It is still wise to seek legal guidance because if members of the public attempt to complete it themselves and do so incorrectly the form will be rejected and they could end up having to pay twice to register it. Solicitors are also well placed to verify that the person entering into the LPA is not being pressured into doing so.

A Wealth Management partner at Ashtons Legal, says: “Given the statistics, it is important that we all plan ahead while we can. Even those who have done an EPA should take advantage of the fact that LPAs give them the opportunity to appoint someone to look after their personal welfare”.

“And for those already suffering from the onset of dementia, it’s important to find a lawyer who understands your situation,” he added.

Ashtons Legal provides advice on legal and financial matters for people suffering from dementia and is involved with local organisations such as the Alzheimers Society.


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