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Martin Searle Solicitors

Case Study: Making A Lasting Power Of Attorney After A Diagnosis Of Dementia

Summary

How Cate Searle, a Lasting Power of Attorney solicitor in Brighton, helped Ben, a man in his 60s with dementia, to plan ahead to ensure that his most trusted friends and relatives have the appropriate legal authority to help him make decisions about his affairs and health should he become unable to do so himself.

The situation

Ben came to see Cate with his sister, Lisa, as he had been diagnosed with dementia a few months previously. Ben lives on his own and was beginning to worry about his ability to manage his finances and look after himself. Ben felt that he had ‘good’ days when things felt clearer and more manageable, but also ‘bad’ days where he really wasn’t sure what to do with his day or how to get the right help if he needed something. Ben explained that his memory was becoming worse and he sometimes found it difficult to do certain things such as keeping track of his money, writing a cheque, buying groceries and taking his medication. Ben also found domestic chores difficult and had recently started to experience upsetting hallucinations.

Ben also had a small business and a business partner and he was worried about his ability to manage the financial side of this. He felt that as his dementia progressed, he would need more support and assistance from people he trusts in dealing with not only small day-to-day decisions, but also bigger decisions such as where he should live and be cared for; and how to manage his bank accounts.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

Cate explained the differences between the two different types of Lasting Powers of Attorney and discussed with Ben and Lisa whether Ben needed one or both types of Lasting Power of Attorney. Cate provided examples of decisions that Ben may need to make in the future and who would make those decisions if he lost mental capacity.

Ben decided that he wanted to make two LPAs. The first was to cover decisions relating to his Property and Financial Affairs because he owned his own home and had financial and business assets. He said that Lisa was already helping him a lot and he felt that even on good days, he needed Lisa’s input to keep things running smoothly. Cate understood how complex financial decisions can be at times, and explained that an LPA for finances should always be registered as soon as it is complete. The advantage of doing this in Ben’s case was that his Property & Financial Affairs LPA could be used as soon as it was registered and Lisa could rely on it to help him out on “bad days” even if he still had mental capacity.

Ben made another Lasting Power of Attorney to cover decisions relating to his Health and Welfare. Ben felt that because of his dementia, it is possible that he would either have to move into a care home in the future or that he would need a package of care at home. He wanted his Attorney to know his opinion and preferences about these issues whilst he retained mental capacity, so that his Attorney could uphold his wishes and feelings on his behalf if he lost capacity. Cate assisted Ben with this by putting his wishes into guidance for his Attorneys to follow. For example, Ben wanted to stay in his local area should he have to move into a care or nursing home, and if this happened, Ben wanted to have particular items of property with him in his room.

Cate undertook a Mental Capacity Assessment during the meeting to satisfy herself that Ben had the capacity to make a Lasting Power of Attorney. Lisa helped Ben to get together all of the factual details about his Attorneys, Replacement Attorneys and who he wishes to notify about making the Lasting Powers of Attorney. Ben wanted his sister Lisa to be his first Attorney and for his friend Sam to be his replacement Attorney, in case Lisa was unable to act in the future.

The result

Cate drafted both Lasting Power of Attorneys in accordance with Ben’s instructions. Ben had a second appointment with Cate to complete and sign the LPAs and Cate undertook a further Mental Capacity Assessment whilst the meeting went on to ensure that Ben still had the capacity to understand what the LPAs were and to decide that he wanted to make them. It was clear that Ben’s cognitive health was beginning to deteriorate more than might be expected given his relative youth. Therefore, Cate ensured that the LPAs were completed by all parties and that the LPAs were submitted to the Office of the Public Guardian promptly.

Ben was relieved that both his LPAs had specific guidance consistent with his own wishes and felt reassured that his affairs would be looked after by people he had chosen, rather than by Social Services or through Court of Protection proceedings. The LPAs were registered. Sadly, within only a few weeks, Ben’s capacity to deal with his finances unfortunately deteriorated further and his sister Lisa had to step in more often to help him out. Lisa was relieved that the process had completed in such a timely manner, and she was able to use Ben’s LPA to act on his behalf for his Property & Financial Affairs. Ben still has capacity to make Health & Welfare decisions for himself, however, he now feels less anxious about what will happen as his condition declines, because he knows Lisa can help with this too.

If you need to discuss Lasting Power of Attorney options, contact our community care team for a no-obligation chat about how to proceed. Contact us today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

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