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Valentine’s Day is the time of year our minds turn to our loved ones. But, whilst exchanging cards or gifts is commonplace, it is worth considering other things you can do for a more vulnerable loved one.
Memory loss and subsequent diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, will affect 1 in 14 people over 65. The risk increases to 1 in 6 by the time a person reaches the age of 80.
According to statistics released by the Alzheimer’s Society, the number of people living with the disease is set to increase as people are living longer. In fact, by 2025, the Society estimates the number of people with dementia in the UK will have hit 1 million.
It’s heartbreaking to see our loved ones go through such a terrible and tragic illness and as parents and other relatives start to show signs of memory loss, it can become a worry. But, it is also important to realise actions you must take to safeguard the individual as they potentially become more vulnerable.
Action Fraud reported recent findings from the charity Age UK that around 53% of people aged 65+ believe they have been targeted by fraudsters and people who struggle with memory loss are particularly at risk of falling victim.
Of course, it can be extremely difficult to have conversations with our loved ones about getting older and how it can affect both their physical and mental health. However, if they are diagnosed with something like Alzheimer’s, it both their physical and mental health will gradually get worse. At that stage, and ideally before any diagnosis it is important to speak to your family member or friend about putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for them, as well as a will. No one knows what the future will hold so we all need to plan ahead and take control of what we want for ourselves and our families.
An LPA is a document that nominates an individual, two or more trusted people or as an “attorney/a’’, who is/are then allowed by law to act on an individual’s (or “doner’s”) behalf if the donor lacks mental capacity to make their own decisions unable i.e. due to having Alzheimers or vascular dementia. The attorney/s will be able to take over the donor’s finances, such as paying any bills, rent or mortgage, and make decisions about their health and welfare, such as where that person will live and any care or medical treatment they receive in the donor’s best interests in accordance with The Mental Capacity Act.
The donor can choose the attorney/s, so they can have full trust in that person/ those people. However, it is important that LPAs and wills are written whilst the donor has mental capacity to be able to do this.
An LPA is only valid during a person’s lifetime. Upon death, it is the will that determines who receives any money or assets from the individual’s estate. That’s why it is important that there is an LPA and a will in place – otherwise, if no will is in place, the rules of intestacy apply, and the estate could pass to distant relatives and cause upset, ill feeling and hardship to surviving loved ones.
If you would like some more information about updating your will or drafting a Lasting Power of Attorney, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.