Power of Attorney & protecting the rights of people with dementia

Dementia Action Week runs 17th – 23rd May 2021 and is a national event that sees the public coming together to take action to improve the lives of people affected by dementia.

When a person receives a dementia diagnosis, this doesn’t automatically mean they cannot make important decisions. However, as their symptoms worsen, they may no longer be able to make decisions about their finances, health or care. We refer to this as losing mental capacity. If you are concerned about losing mental capacity, you may wish to take steps now to protect yourself.

In this article, we look at how someone you trust can make decisions on your behalf or how you can help a loved one with dementia protect their rights for a time when they lose mental capacity.

Mental capacity – explained

In short, mental capacity means that the person can understand, remember, and use information to make important decisions about their life. Mental capacity can be difficult to ascertain; some people are perfectly able to make daily decisions such as what to eat and what to wear but struggle with financial or health decisions.

Only a healthcare professional can determine whether a person has lost mental capacity, and it will not be based on making a strange decision or a single mistake.

The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) protects and empowers people who may have lost mental capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment. The Act also states that where a decision must be made on behalf of a person who has lost capacity, this decision must be made in their best interests. There is a checklist to help decision makers decide.

Dementia and making a Power of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so for yourself. This person is called your attorney.

To set up a Power of Attorney, you must have the mental capacity to do so, so it is important to do this as soon as possible if you have received a dementia diagnosis.

Do you need a Power of Attorney if you are married?

It is essential to understand that no one has the power to make decisions on your behalf if you have not set up an LPA. Your spouse or civil partner cannot automatically deal with bank accounts or pensions or even make decisions about your care where you lose capacity. As a result, even if you are married or in a civil partnership, setting up an LPA is essential.

To discuss this, or any other related matter with Louise directly, please call 01483 887766, email info@hartbrown.co.uk or start a live chat today. 

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.  

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Louise Harrhy

Partner, Head of Trusts & Estates

A Partner based in Cranleigh, Louise is also Head of the Trusts & Estates team at Hart Brown and has extensive experience in a broad...

Partner, Head of Trusts & Estates

Louise Harrhy

A Partner based in Cranleigh, Louise is also Head of the Trusts & Estates team at Hart Brown and has extensive experience in a broad range of Private Client work.

Louise helps clients with all aspects of Private Client work and deals with the formation and administration of trusts, lifetime and post death planning and will drafting. She also works with other professional advisors to provide a complete package of advice.

Louise has considerable experience of applications for probate and estate administration often including complex issues and overseas assets. Additionally, she can help clients with Court of Protection matters including lasting powers of attorney and court applications for gifts.

"Louise Harrhy is highly experienced in probate applications and estate administration especially matters involving offshore assets. She is skilled in Court of Protection matters, including deputyships and lasting powers of attorney." (Chambers UK 2016)

"Louise Harrhy is a really driven and committed lawyer. She advises clients on a wide range of areas, including the creation of wills, the establishment of trusts and the administration of estates. Her work also incudes Court of Protection matters." (Chambers UK 2017)

Louise is also a member of The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.