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Dementia and estate planning

Dementia is a term that covers a set of symptoms including memory loss, confusion, loss of ability to problem-solve or think clearly. Generally, dementia progresses over time, with the symptoms getting worse. This will often mean that, at some point, the dementia sufferer will lose the ability to make important decisions about things such as their finances, their care, or what will happen to their estate after they pass on. If no valid measures are already in place, such as a Will, this can make things complex when the dementia sufferer is deemed to no longer have the mental capacity to sign legal documents themselves.

Stephensons can help those who have been diagnosed with dementia, but retain mental capacity at this time, with estate planning, as well as putting in place a lasting power of attorney so that someone else can legally help with decisions in the future. This can help the individual to protect their assets and take steps to make sure their wishes are known and understood when the time comes. Call us on 0161 696 6238 for a no-obligation initial chat.

 

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Estate planning for dementia sufferers

Estate planning for someone with dementia can sometimes be complex, depending on how much the condition has progressed and how capable they are to understand, retain and weigh up information in respect of the various decisions that need to be made. This section includes information about some of the topics that we are asked about the most. If you can’t find the answers that you are looking for here, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team, who will be happy to help. Call us on 0161 696 6238.

Whether or not someone who suffers from dementia is able to make decisions about estate planning themselves will depend on whether they are deemed to have mental capacity, according to the principles set out by the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

If an individual with a diagnosis of dementia currently has the mental capacity to make important decisions about their finances, property and other assets, they may still benefit from speaking to a solicitor about the tax or other implications of these decisions. They may also wish to have a family member or friend help them with decisions like these, with the individual having the final choices in any steps taken.

Why having a valid Will in place is important for dementia sufferers

Someone who has been diagnosed with dementia, but who has been assessed as still having mental capacity at this time, can arrange for a Will to be put in place in the same way as anyone else. It is generally recommended that at the time the Will is put in place or amended, an assessment takes place so that the individual’s mental capacity can’t be questioned later, or the Will be disputed for this reason after they pass on.

If the person with dementia doesn’t have a valid Will in place by the point by which they are deemed to lack mental capacity, when they pass on, their estate will be treated in the same way as any other estate where the deceased didn’t have a Will; under the rules of intestacy. This can sometimes mean that the estate is not divided in the way that the deceased would have wished. Having a Will in place ensures that the individual’s wishes are clear and that any inheritance or assets are directed in the way they want, often to relatives or other loved ones.

If the person with dementia does not have an opportunity to put a Will in place whilst they still have mental capacity, it might be possible for a loved one to make an application to the Court of Protection for a statutory Will. For more information about this or to discuss the options, please get in touch with us, by calling 0161 696 6238.

Estate planning and inheritance tax for someone with dementia

Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, it may be worthwhile for the individual, or those with lasting power of attorney or Court of Protection deputyship for them if they now lack mental capacity to do so themselves, to take steps for inheritance tax planning purposes. This could apply to someone who owns a business, or simply has their own personal assets that they want to protect for others when they pass on.

With some careful planning, an individual with dementia, or those acting legally on their behalf and in their best interests, can use opportunities such as their Will, lifetime gifting or the creation and administration of trusts to help ensure that their wealth and assets are passed to those most important to them.

Our probate team are specialists in this area and can offer all the advice and support needed at every stage of the process. Call us on 0161 696 6238.

Further information

The advice provided to non-face to face clients will be through electronic or written communication only e.g. by telephone and email. Stephensons Solicitors LLP assumes no responsibility for, and shall not be liable for, (a) verification of mental capacity or testamentary capacity (b) verification of any undue influence or duress involved (c) the execution of any documents.
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