How to plan financial and legal affairs for those with dementia

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How to plan financial and legal affairs for those with dementia

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Early Planning and organisation of financial and legal affairs for those with Dementia

This article from the team at Dementia Waikato covers ways to plan ahead and how to organise financial and legal affairs when a person losses the ability to handle money or make business decisions.


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Why plan ahead?

Planning ahead can make it easier for families and carers to manage the affairs of a person with dementia. It also means that the person with dementia can participate in planning and make sure their wishes are known and carried out in the way that they would like.
 
Wherever possible, get matters sorted out while the person with dementia can still participate in the discussion and is legally competent to sign the necessary documents.

Money matters 

If a bank account is in joint names, the partner of the person with dementia can continue to operate it without any change in arrangements. However problems occur if the person with dementia uses the account inappropriately or has accounts in their
name only. To avoid these difficulties the person with dementia can give authority, while legally competent, for another person to operate the account.
 
Remember that this authority will be invalid if the person is no longer legally competent. If s/he is does not agree to a change of arrangement, consult the bank manager about a possible solution. 

What to organise

  • Joint signatures on all financial accounts
  • Discussion of future financial affairs with an adviser
  • Arranging access of finances for a person with dementia.

Who can help?

  • Bank manager
  • Accredited financial adviser
  • Solicitor
  • Local Dementia organisation.

Enduring Power of Attorney

An enduring power of attorney (EPOA) is a legal arrangement that enables a nominated person (the attorney) to look after the affairs of another person should they become unable to do so.
 
It is sensible for all ageing people to appoint an attorney regardless of whether they have a dementia diagnosis or not. An attorney may be appointed for property or welfare.
 
The property attorney manages the financial affairs for the person once they lack capacity (as determined by a doctor). The welfare attorney makes decisions about such things as where the person might live or what medical treatment they receive when they cannot do this themselves. Even though the person may lack capacity, the attorney must involve them as much as possible in decision-making and always try to do what they think the person with dementia would have wanted, not what the attorney thinks is best for them.

What to organise

  • That the person with dementia has the opportunity to appoint an enduring power of attorney (if they don’t already have one) as soon as possible after diagnosis while they have the capacity to do so
  • Families and carers also have their own EPOA so that their affairs can be managed in case they also become incapable
  • Having a copy of the EPOA and knowing where the original is kept.

Who can help?

  • Solicitor
  • Citizen’s Advice Bureau
  • The Public Trust
  • Your local Dementia NZ branch.

What to do if a person already lacks capacity and doesn’t have an Enduring Power of Attorney

If the person lacks capacity to make decisions and has not appointed an EPOA, then an application can be made to the family Court for the appointment of a Welfare Guardian and /or a Property Manager under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights (PPPR) Act to manage their affairs. The family doctor can help determine competence / capacity.
 
Going through the Court is an expensive and stressful process, so it is much better if an EPOA has been appointed earlier.

Wills

A Will gives instructions as to how the estate of a deceased person should be distributed. A Will is only legal if the person understands its implications, so it is essential that if the person with dementia wishes to make, or update their Will, they do so while they are still competent to sign.
 
Unlike other legal documents, there is no “presumption of competence” when someone is changing their Will; the person making the change has to prove that they have the capacity to do so.

What to organise

  • Have an up to date will
  • Know who the executor is and where the will is kept.

Who can help?

  • Solicitor
  • The Law Society or Institute, or Legal Aid
  • The Public Trust
  • Your local Dementia NZ branch.

Planning for care

Advanced Care planning or directive is a written document expressing the wishes of the person with dementia about medical treatment, particularly towards the end of life. While this is not legally binding, it is taken into serious consideration when making decisions for the person who is unable to communicate.

What to organise

  • Discuss and write an advance care plan
  • Have a copy of the document, and know where it is kept. 

 

Who can help?

  • Solicitor
  • Advance Care Planning (www.advancecareplanning.org.nz)
  • Citizens’ Advice Bureau
  • Your local Dementia NZ branch.

More Information about Dementia Waikato

Dementia Waikato is a charitable trust providing free services to support individuals with a dementia diagnosis, their families and care partners.
 
To contact the Coromandel Peninsula Dementia Advisor and for more information about Dementia Waikato see the related link below. 

Read More

Related Links

Dementia Waikato

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