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How to look after your relative’s affairs if they develop dementia

Ards and North Down “tops dementia table”.

This week it was reported in The Newtownards Chronicle (Thursday 5th April) that, “More people are affected by dementia in Ards and North Down than in any other Northern Ireland council area.” The Chronicle referred to figures produced for 2017 by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency which showed that ten in every 1,000 people here in the borough are suffering from dementia related conditions. This, then, is a condition which impacts upon a great many of the community here; husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandchildren.

The emotional distress of coping with a relative suffering from dementia, or a related condition, is difficult enough to bear on its own. What compounds the problem are the associated financial issues, e.g. paying for their care or attempting to sell property on their behalf. This is where we can help. We can advise you on the correct processes to follow so that you can obtain power of attorney in relation to your relative or you can be made controller of their affairs by court order.

Enduring Powers of Attorney and Controllership Orders

Both of these allow you to manage their financial affairs whenever they no longer have the mental capacity to do so.

Your relative can protect themselves in advance of declining mental acuity by signing an Enduring Power of Attorney in your favour. This will give you (as ‘attorney’) certain powers, which can be as wide or as limited as the ‘donor’ wishes. In the future then when it appears that the donor may be losing their mental capacity the Enduring Power of Attorney can be registered with the Court.

This allows the powers granted pursuant to the Power of Attorney to endure beyond the time when the ‘donor’ loses capacity. You can then act on your relative’s behalf. In theory they you do anything from operate bank accounts on their behalf, sell property to raise finances, redeem mortgages, etc. However limitations may be applied at the time of the creation of the document. It is important your ‘donor’ decides how far ranging he or she wishes the powers to be before the document is signed.

What if your parent or relative never signed a power of attorney and they have already lost their mental capacity? In this case we can help you make an application to the court to have a Controllership Order made in your favour. We will have to seek expert medical evidence from an appropriate doctor to confirm that they have lost their mental capacity. There can be objections from rival family members to your application but we can provide expert guidance and help you every step of the way.

Get in touch

We appreciate the issues relating to dementia are not easy for everyone to discuss, we offer an initial free, no-obligation consultation where we can discuss the issues you and your family are facing. Then we can plan the path forward.

If you or your family are concerned about any of the issues discussed please give us a call on 02891 817715, or contact our estates team by email at estates@boydricesolicitors.com.