When an elderly parent is diagnosed with dementia, it can take time before they become fully incapacitated.It is, therefore, advisable for the elderly to appoint a power of attorney to make decisions on their behalf. Such choices include those regarding health, welfare, and finances. This should be done as soon as possible.
This is because the dementia progresses they will find that their mental capacity worsens, which in turn will mean they can cannot consent to the power of attorney. If this is left too late, then you will need to apply to the court of protection, which can take a significant amount of time and expense.
Having a trustworthy person to execute your wishes would ensure your wishes are fulfilled and, at the same time, it would give your family peace.
Only a mental capacity assessor can decide that a person is incapable of making major decisions.
The Mental Capacity Act also stipulates that the person granted power of attorney should act in the best interest of the said person. However, before appointing a person to act on your behalf, or even make a will, you must be in the right mental state.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document stipulating attorney(s) mandated with the responsibility of making major decisions on behalf of someone else.
There are two types of LPA documents as detailed here:
A property and financial affairs power of attorney allows the appointed person to make decisions about the collection of pension, payment of bills, banking, selling or buying of houses, and other financial accounts. If granted permission, the attorney can take up the role immediately after drawing the document.
The person with the health and welfare power of attorney has a responsibility to make decisions on such things as:
However, the attorney can only make health decisions when the sick person doesn’t have the right mental ability to make their own decisions.An appointed attorney can assume the property and financial affairs power of attorney, as well as the health and welfare power of attorney. They can also assume just one of the two. This means that two people can have the mandate to make major decisions regarding a person with dementia.
It is not uncommon for married couples or close relatives to think that they’ll take up the role of making significant decisions for their mentally incapacitated relative.
However, if the elderly had not drawn the power of attorney document, then the court has to be involved. The relatives have to go through the court of protection so that they’re allowed to act as the deputy to the ailing person.
How to get a lasting Power of Attorney
The court of protection makes decisions for people who can’t do so due to their mental ability.
Here is a short video that explains more about the court of protection.
Therefore, if you are unable to set up a lasting power of attorney then this is likely to be the only option available to you.
The district judges together with a senior judge often preside over cases presented in the court. Other times, the cases are handled by the High Court judges. Some of the roles that the court carries out include:
– Deciding whether a person has mental incapability
– Registration of the lasting power of attorney documents
– Evaluating objection requests to the LPA
– Appointment of deputies to act on behalf of a mentally ill person
– Deciding whether someone should be denied their freedom to make decisions
– Granting permission to close relatives to make one time decisions on behalf of an elderly person with dementia
– Looking into emergency applications
Drafting your power of attorney agreement using online resources is possible.
However, the chances of missing out on some important details are high. It is, therefore, advisable that you involve an advisor or specialist solicitor to help you. If you seek the services of a solicitor, you can expect to incur the Lasting Power of Attorney costs. However, the costs are well worth it because you’ll rest assured that all your requirements are put into detail.
The costs for a single power of attorney are usually around £325 plus VAT, so around £400 in total. However, with the deal that we have with Co-op Legal Services, the costs start at only £165 plus VAT.
The power of attorney agreement is registered with the office of the public guardian.
The office allows you to submit the documents yourself or your attorney can do it on your behalf. But what if someone registers illegally using your name? Well, no need to worry because the office notifies the subjects even before processing the applications.
You can even involve your family or friends whom you would want to be notified before the implementation of the agreement. You can do that by sending them some forms to fill so that you submit them together with your application. The people to notify will then be informed before commencement of the registration.
Your close relatives, friends, or even you have the opportunity to express your concerns regarding the application within three weeks. The office of the public guardian keenly looks into any objections before proceeding with the process. If nothing is raised and the information provided is valid, the power of attorney document is processed within ten weeks.
The topic of death is not interesting to discuss, but it ultimately happens. Therefore, as you convince your elderly relative to register for a power of attorney agreement, also encourage them to make a will. If the deceased had left a will, then the executors are granted probate to manage the property of the said person.
However, if no will was issued by the deceased, then you need to apply for the Letters of Grant of Administration.
Registration of probate is done at the probate registry. You can learn more about probate and the fees involved here.
An elderly person diagnosed with dementia should grant a trusted person with powers of attorney before symptoms get worse. With the powers of attorney document, relatives and friends have peace knowing what to do in different situations.
The LPA exist in two different types, the Health and welfare power of attorney and the Property and financial affairs power of attorney.
All registration of these agreements is done by the office of the Public Guardian. Any disputes regarding the execution of the powers of attorney or determination of mental incapacitation are ruled by the Court of Protection. As an elderly person with dementia passes on powers to make major decision to loved ones, they should also be convinced to make a will.