How dementia affects your loved ones Will?
SANDY KAUR >
SolicitorThu 7 January 2021
Losing someone close to you can be incredibly difficult. Especially if you're responsible for handling funeral arrangements, personal affairs and sorting out their Will. The experience can often be overwhelming.
If someone is diagnosed with dementia, they may face challenges they did not expect. These challenges can range from not accepting the diagnosis, the person's care needs change and even dealing with finance and legal issues.
Many people believe that because someone has been diagnosed with dementia, that they do not have the capacity to make a Will but this is incorrect. Many people who are diagnosed with dementia can prepare for the future.
There are many ways in which someone can plan; one of the main ways is by creating a Will. Other factors could include a Lasting power of attorney, trusts, advance decision to refuse treatment and many more.
If a person has been diagnosed with dementia, this does not automatically mean that they are not able to make a Will to detail their final wishes, whom their money and possessions should go to after they die.
It depends on whether the person can understand and make decisions regarding their Will.
Those who wish to make a Will must have 'testamentary capacity'. This is used to describe a person's legal and mental ability to make or alter a valid Will. It means that the person in question should think about:
- What making a Will means and the effect that it will have,
- What they own and how this might change (including what they may owe or be owned in future),
- Who might expect to be named in their Will, and why they are choosing to either leave or not leave their belongings to.
It is a good idea to take consideration that Wills can be disputed later. However, there are actions people can carry out to avoid future complications. These actions could ensure that the Will is written properly, their mental capacity and that their Will is kept up to date if any family events occur.
This could include getting a medical opinion, otherwise known as 'the Golden Rule' by the Courts to prove that they can make and alter their Will. The Golden Rule will help someone with dementia, if they are questioned about their Will in the future it means that there is substantial evidence that they were mentally capable at the time and knew about the decisions they were making.
Mental capacity is when their condition progresses and dementia may make them unable to make some decisions themselves.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is the law in England and Wales and protects and supports people who lack the capacity to make a decision. It outlines who and should make their decisions. This act can help people with dementia and their carers to make specific decisions and plan ahead.
Alzheimer's Society: "It is always important for everyone to have a Will so that their last wishes are known and can be carried out. Not having a Will can make this more difficult, particularly if they have any estate to leave behind."
"Any person can give lasting power of attorney to someone else provided they have the capacity to make this decision. This is usually advised when a person gets a diagnosis of dementia."
"Once a person loses mental capacity, they cannot give lasting power of attorney which can make managing their wishes and finances more difficult," they continued.
For everyone, the thought of death can be a daunting feeling and especially when dealing with the death of a loved one. In circumstances like this, especially if your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia it is worth thinking ahead.
Please contact Sandy Kaur at our Peterborough office on 01733 865625 or click the 'contact us' button to email her directly. Click here to read more about our Wills, Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate Service.