Legal Affairs After a Dementia Diagnosis  
May 13, 2024

Dementia Action Week (13–19 May 2024) is an annual campaign run by the Alzheimer’s Society to bring people together to take action on dementia. 

Research shows that there are more than 944,000 people in the UK living with dementia. One in 11 people over the age of 65 have dementia in the UK.  

This number is expected to rise sharply in the coming years as people are living longer. By 2040, it is expected that there will be around 1.6 million people living with dementia in the country. 

The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms caused by different diseases that damage the brain. There are various types of dementia, although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.  

It is a progressive disease, where symptoms get worse over time. 

Typical symptoms of dementia include: 

  • Memory loss. 
  • Confusion. 
  • Difficulty concentrating. 
  • Needing help with daily tasks. 
  • Problems with language and understanding. 
  • Changes in behaviour.  

Receiving a dementia diagnosis can be devastating for an individual and their loved ones. However, ensuring you have the right legal documents in place can provide valuable peace of mind by protecting the interests and wishes of someone with dementia and their family. 

In this blog, our Private Client solicitors consider what legal documents you need in place if you receive a dementia diagnosis. 

Dementia and the Law 

Whether or not you are able to manage your own legal affairs after receiving a dementia diagnosis depends on whether you have the necessary ‘testamentary capacity’. 

As long as the person living with dementia can understand and appreciate the consequences of their actions, they should be able to take part in estate planning

Any question marks over whether you have the legal capacity required to execute legal documents could lead to complications and challenges further down the line, so specialist advice is vital. 

At Bowsers Solicitors, our professional and friendly lawyers can advise on the best way to proceed. Our experienced team will get to know you and understand your priorities before recommending what you need to do to provide maximum peace of mind for you and your loved ones. 

If you are looking for estate planning legal advice for people living with dementia, please contact Bowsers today on 01945 583194 (Wisbech) or 01354 652606 (March), or email reception@bowsers.co.uk.  

What legal documents do I need if I have received a dementia diagnosis? 

If you have received a dementia diagnosis, you should consider putting in place the following legal protections. 

  1. Will. 

A Will is a legal document that sets out what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death. Having a Will is the only way you can ensure that your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are taken care of after you pass away. 

Making a Will is particularly important if you are a cohabiting couple that is not married or in a civil partnership, as under the rules of intestacy, unmarried partners do not automatically inherit. 

Wills provide clarity, peace of mind and protection. Some of the benefits of a Will include: 

  • Ensures your estate goes to the right people. 
  • Protects children and unmarried partners. 
  • Saves money, time, and stress. 
  • Lowers the potential for future disputes. 
  • Gives clarity to arrangements for any children, pets and possessions. 
  • Allows you to support your favourite causes and leave a legacy. 
  1. Lasting Powers of Attorney. 

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows an individual to appoint one or more people (an attorney) to make certain decisions on their behalf if they lose the capacity to make those decisions themselves. 

There are two main types of LPA: 

  • Property and financial affairs. This type of LPA allows one or more attorneys to make financial decisions regarding paying bills, collecting benefits or a pension, selling the donor’s home and managing bank accounts. 
  • Health and welfare. This allows an attorney to make decisions about daily routines, such as washing, dressing and eating. A health and welfare LPA also involves decisions made regarding medical care, moving into a care home and receiving or removing life-sustaining treatment. 

An LPA acts as a valuable insurance policy for you and your loved ones by ensuring you have the necessary protections in place for a point in time when you need it. Appointing your own attorney to make decisions on your behalf means you retain the control to be looked after by someone of your choosing. 

If you lose capacity and do not have a valid LPA, the people you may want to make decisions on your behalf will not automatically have control of your affairs. Your loved ones may need to make an application to the Court of Protection, which can be stressful, time-consuming, and costly.  

Not having an LPA can cause considerable difficulties and mean loved ones cannot access your finances, even if it is to pay for your care. 

  1. Living Will. 

A Living Will (also known as an advance statement or advance decision) lets your family, carers and healthcare professionals know your wishes for your future health and social care if you become unable to make decisions. 

A Living Will allows you to choose and explain which medical treatments you do and don’t want in the future. It is legally binding as long as it complies with the Mental Capacity Act and fulfils certain other criteria. 

Elderly and Vulnerable Client Solicitors March and Wisbech 

At Bowsers Solicitors, our private client team has extensive experience helping elderly and vulnerable clients and their families with their legal needs.  

Our friendly team takes the time to get to know you and your loved one and establish what legal solutions are most appropriate for your circumstances. 

We offer a wide range of private client legal services and can help with: 

  • Wills. 
  • Court of Protection applications. 
  • Deputyships. 
  • Living Wills. 
  • Estate Planning. 
  • Care fees. 
  • Trusts. 
  • Statutory Wills. 
  • Lasting Powers of Attorney. 

To speak to one of our friendly yet professional private client solicitors or chartered legal executives today, please call 01945 583194 (Wisbech) or 01354 652606 (March), or email reception@bowsers.co.uk.  

Alternatively, you can fill in our contact form

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