How Covid-19 is shining the spotlight on power of attorney
Covid-19 has presented all sorts of challenges for everyone but especially for those with pre-existing conditions like dementia. At such a worrying time, it’s more important than ever to take sensible steps to plan for the future with a lasting power of attorney.
A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to choose a trusted person to take over your decision-making, should you lose capacity to do so yourself.
The news has recently drawn attention to the importance of arranging a lasting power of attorney, with Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway speaking publicly about her financial battles since husband Derek Draper was hospitalised with coronavirus.
Because Derek was named on most of the couple’s financial documents, Kate has been unable to take over the finances on his behalf. This is a common problem that people run into when one partner becomes incapacitated by illness or accident, or when someone loses capacity to a condition like dementia.
Why is power of attorney important for people living with dementia?
Power of attorney is an important legal tool, especially for those living with dementia. Because dementia involves the deterioration of cognitive functions like reasoning and remembering, many people with dementia will find that they can no longer make some decisions for themselves. At this point, a trusted person can take over if a lasting power of attorney agreement is in place.
The person chosen to make decisions of behalf of someone who is incapacitated is called an ‘attorney’, and they can make decisions on someone’s behalf if they have legally agreed in advance.
There are two types of lasting powers of attorney, covering different areas – you can choose one or both options.
- A health and welfare lasting power of attorney allows a nominated person – or people – to make decisions for you about your healthcare and medical treatment.
- A property and affairs lasting power of attorney allows a nominated person – or people – to make decisions on your behalf about your finances and property.
Why do I need a lasting power of attorney?
Planning for the future has never been more important. Covid-19 has shown us just how uncertain our current times are; a power of attorney can provide peace of mind in these strange times.
By arranging a lasting power of attorney, you have the reassurance that your affairs will be handled by someone you trust in the event that you cannot make decisions for yourself anymore.
Dementia is a progressive condition, so arranging a lasting power of attorney early on can help alleviate worries for all concerned, and it enshrines in law your wishes. Waiting until capacity has deteriorated makes it more difficult for loved ones to get the consent they need to make decisions on your behalf further down the line.
How do I make a lasting power of attorney?
To make a lasting power of attorney, you need to be 18 or over and have mental capacity – this means that you understand what you’re doing and the implications of your decision.
Making a lasting power of attorney involves filling out forms, either physically or online. The forms will form the basis of an important agreement, so you may want to consult with an adviser before filling out the paperwork.
When you sign the forms, you’ll need a witness – this can be a professional like your doctor or social worker, or an independent person who has known you for at least two year. The witness cannot be a family member.
The paperwork must then be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian – a process that takes around eight to ten weeks.
Make a lasting power of attorney with Ambiance Care
If you want to find out more about making a lasting power of attorney, discuss your options or ask for advice, we’re here to help.
Ambiance Advice can give you the information and assistance you need about planning for your future, or someone else’s.
Regardless of where you’re at on the dementia journey, we offer honest advice and support, and the benefits of our 15 years’ health and social care experience.
Get in touch by phone, email or contact form with any questions – we’re always here with a listening ear to offer advice and dementia care in Stockport, East Cheshire, South Manchester and Trafford. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook to keep up with all our updates.