Dementia is an umbrella term for several progressive diseases affecting memory, thinking and the ability to perform daily activities. Each year, Alzheimer’s Society run a dementia awareness campaign known as Dementia Action Week.
Lauren McGurk, Senior Associate in our Older and Vulnerable Persons (OVP) Team has many clients who live with dementia, from those with early signs and symptoms to those further down the dementia journey.
Having dementia doesn’t completely prevent them from getting their affairs in order. For example, they may have capacity to put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). An LPA authorises someone else to help you make decisions should you lose capacity to make the decision for yourself.
If someone has not planned for the possibility of losing capacity, and they are unable to put an LPA in place, the only way that that person’s affairs can be looked after is by applying to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order.
In 2017, Lauren was contacted by the Local Authority to advise that they had placed a lady called ‘Eleanor’ into a care home following welfare concerns at her home address. Eleanor had been diagnosed with dementia and was now unable to make decisions for herself.
Eleanor had been semi-prepared for the future, as she had a Power of Attorney appointing her husband to be her sole attorney should she lose capacity. However, unfortunately, her husband predeceased her, meaning there was no one with authority to look after Eleanor’s affairs.
As Eleanor did not have the mental capacity to create a new LPA, Lauren worked with the Local Authority and Eleanor’s distant relatives to find a solution in her best interests. It was decided that Lauren would apply to the Court of Protection seeking a Deputyship Order for Property and Financial Affairs, so that this firm could manage Eleanor’s property and financial affairs going forward.
Applying for deputyship is not a quick process and so Eleanor’s finances were left in limbo for over eight months whilst the application was with the Court of Protection – which was eventually granted.
Lauren and her team continue to manage Eleanor’s financial affairs to date; this has involved:
Lauren said: “Helping Eleanor and people in similar situations to manage financial affairs is what the OVP team is all about. It is so fulfilling to not only give the legal guidance they need, but to also have longstanding, personable relationships.”