If a loved one has just been diagnosed with dementia, they may still be fairly independent at this stage, but it’s important to get their paperwork organised swiftly. Here’s what I’d recommend organising…
Encourage the person to make a Lasting Power of Attorney – This should be done early on while the person with dementia still has capacity.
They won’t be able to make a Lasting Power of Attorney if they are considered to lack capacity, so don’t leave it too long. Speak to a solicitor for more advice. They will need to be satisfied that the person understands what they are signing. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and although many people tend to focus on finance, I’d recommend doing both:
- Property & Finance – The person or persons appointed to be the attorney(s) can make decisions on matters such as buying and selling the person’s property, investing money and paying bills.
- Health & Welfare – The person or persons appointed to be the attorney(s) can make decisions about the person’s health and wellbeing including decisions about their medical care and where they live. However, the attorney must implement the person’s wishes, which they will need to have discussed previously. So if the person you are caring for has said they do not want to go into a care home, the Health & Welfare attorney should not overrule that and should do all they can to ensure the person doesn’t go into a care home, unless it’s been demonstrated there is no alternative for the person’s future wellbeing.
- Encourage them to make or update a will – A diagnosis of dementia doesn’t mean they are going to die in the short-term, as dementia can take around ten years to progress. A person with Alzheimer’s disease can live for an average of eight years, or even up to 20 years. However, it’s important to make or update a will while the person still has capacity.
- Locate important documents – Find out where they keep other important documents like insurance policies for house and car insurance. If they don’t mind, take these documents home with you and keep a note of any important renewal dates in your diary. Otherwise, put them all in one file marked in a safe place.
- File bank statements carefully – Keep them in a folder that is clearly labeled. Again, if they are happy for you to keep hold of these items you can keep track of everything. As their condition deteriorates, they will be less likely to remember where to put things and items may end up in unlikely places.
- Obtain third party authority on the person’s bank accounts – This means the person is letting the bank know they would like you to have access to their bank accounts and the ability to manage them in future. You will then have the authority to check their bank balances, transfer funds, make online payments for them and order cheque books on their behalf. You will need to go into the bank with the person and both of you will need to take identification, including passports and proof of address. With some banks, Power of Attorney would also give you this authority, so it may not be necessary, but the situation can vary depending on the bank.
- Let the DVLA know the person has been diagnosed with dementia – They have a legal obligation to inform the DVLA of their diagnosis but may not have to stop driving straight away.
- Discuss making an Advance Decision – This is a legally binding document, which outlines what treatment and end-of-life care a person would like to receive in future.