Emmersons Solicitors - Newcastle and Sunderland
Jacqueline Emmerson Collaborative Family Lawyer
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My husband has just been diagnosed with dementia!

We understand that as a family, you may all feel overwhelmed. However, we have found at Emmersons,that when matters are approached in a logical fashion much can be achieved to help the whole family.

 

So where should you start?

 

Things that need to be addressed will include a Will, a Lasting Power of Attorney, arrangement of money and Ownership of any Property that the patient has. In one case recently, Betty came to see us with her daughter as her husband Archie had just been diagnosed with dementia. Both were very distressed. We advised them that in the first instance it was necessary to establish whether or not Archie had sufficient mental capacity to be able to deal with his affairs. We completed a Mental Capacity form and sent it to Archie's GP. We asked specifically whether or not Archie would be able to understand legal decisions such as making a will and appointing Betty as his attorney.

 

Just because there has been a diagnosis of dementia does not mean that Archie can't make any decisions about his life. In this case his GP felt that Archie did have sufficient mental capacity. We therefore arranged to meet Archie at his home in order to make him feel more comfortable. Betty was initially present as was their daughter who had daily contact with her parents. I suggested to Archie that he might like to appoint his wife and daughter to be his attorneys. They could then start to manage his affairs at the point when he could no longer do so. Archie agreed to this. He wanted one Power of Attorney to deal with his Financial Affairs and a second to deal with his Health and Welfare.

 

Most of you will have heard all about the first type as this was a replacement for the old style Enduring Power of Attorney. This was a simple document which allowed people to appoint an attorney to deal with some or all of their finances. If you or you or any member of your family still has such a document then they can still be used. Please note however, that if the person who made the appointment loses mental capacity then the attorney MUST register the document with the relevant government department.

 

The second type of Lasting Power of Attorney dealing with Personal Welfare, gives attorneys the right to make decisions as to the type of care the patient will require. In one shocking case that Emmersons Solicitors dealt with,the Local Authority told our client that her mother had to stay in a particular home. The daughter could clearly see that this was harming her mother. The Local Authority said that our client had no legal standing in respect of her mother's care. We helped the daughter to apply to the Court of Protection so that she could become her mother's Deputy and make legal decisions on he mother's behalf. This however,is an onerous and far costlier task than making a Lasting Power of Attorney. The good news was that the daughter removed her mother from the ghastly home into much better accommodation where her mother's heath and wellbeing improved considerably.

 

But I digress, in Archie's case we discussed splitting bank accounts so that Betty and Archie had an equal amount of money available to them. If Archie later needed to go into a care home then Betty's money would not be used to fund this. Archie also made a will leaving his share of the house and all other assets to Betty. More importantly, Betty made a will leaving her share of the house to their daughter.There was still sufficient money available for Archie's care if needed. But if Betty predeceased Archie then her share of the house would not be used to fund care home fees.

 

As you can imagine, this was a lot for the family to think about when Archie had just been diagnosed. However, everything is now in order and this gives Betty some peace of mind.



For more information ask to speak to our wills and probate department.

Newcastle:   0191 284 6989
Sunderland: 0191 567 6667


Author: Jacqueline Emmerson
Collaborative Family Lawyer



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