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Coping with dementia – Money and legal matters

The Coping with Dementia DVD is made up of 7 chapters. This page features ‘Money and legal matters’ – chapter three of seven and is made up of one short film.

It is up to you which chapters you watch and when. You can watch all the chapters in order, or you can watch a single chapter on its own in any order – choose what suits you best. Some chapters may be more or less relevant at different stages of your caring journey – if you don’t feel you want to watch a chapter now, you may want to view it at a later date.

Please be aware Chapter 7 contains sensitive information about the later stages of dementia and we suggest you only view this chapter when you are ready.

Money and legal matters (chapter 3 of 7)

Planning for the future

It’s really important for somebody with dementia to make arrangements to plan for their own future as early as they can and the reason for that is, of course, that because dementia’s progressive there may be a time when they reach the middle to later stages that they can’t do it any more. To make legal arrangements like Powers of Attorney or writing a will, they have to be capable of doing that and be legally able to do it, so ‘do it now’ is really the message.

There are a number of things you can encourage the person to do:
See a solicitor to make Powers of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is a legal document, which gives someone the legal power to manage the person’s affairs in future. It can cover financial or welfare matters, or both. The attorney can be anyone the person trusts, or they can choose more than one person. Do this as early as possible, as the solicitor will need to be satisfied that the person understands what they are doing and is not under any pressure.

Powers of attorney have to be registered with the Public Guardian before they can be used. This should be done right away because the Public Guardian’s office will check that there are no mistakes. The Power doesn’t have to be used until it’s needed.

The benefits I’ve found from raising a power of attorney is that I can contact the medical staff and financial staff of my wife’s affairs without any problems, otherwise I would have to go through a lot of rigmarole. I also believed that by getting in early with a power of attorney this has helped me and I discovered that there were two types; the one was a continuing power, which is to do with your material things and the welfare type which is all the medicines and medical attention. So if you are in this situation get your power of attorney early and also remember the two types, continuing power and welfare power.

Equally as important is to make a Will, if they haven´t already done so, as early as possible. Again, it is only valid if the person is clearly aware of what they are doing when it is made.

At this time it is a good idea to think about medical care in the future and draw up what is known as a Living Will. Make sure the doctor gets a copy.

Call the Dementia Helpline for more information and for the booklet "Dementia: Money and legal matters".

Managing everyday money matters for the person

As a carer, taking on financial responsibility had to be worked out – it was trial and error. Helping with financial situations, it was important for my dad to have his own bank cards and discussing with him all the bills that he had to pay and he was happy to hand over to myself and my sister to organise with the bank to have direct debits to pay for his bills but also to ensure that he had money daily for him to do his shopping. That was really important to him.

Occasionally someone with dementia may mislay money or valuables and then accuse others of stealing, which can be distressing for all concerned. Reassure them that they have enough money, but don´t always assume they are mistaken. You may have to investigate.

If you feel that there is theft going on, involve the police and/or the social work department.

If you are concerned that someone is misusing the person´s money, the Public Guardian can investigate.
If the person doesn´t have a power of attorney, but can´t manage their own bank account, you can apply to access their money to spend it on their behalf, by filling in an application for "Authority To Access Funds", which is available from the Public Guardian or the Dementia Helpline. Always keep a record of what you receive and spend.

More legal powers to help the person

If a power of attorney does not exist and the person is no longer able to make one, in some cases the court may have to give someone extra powers to manage the person´s affairs, either by appointing a guardian to manage the person’s finances or welfare, or both, or granting an intervention order for a one-off action.

Call the Dementia Helpline for more information. A solicitor can help you apply for guardianship or an intervention order, and remember, the person you care for may be entitled to Legal Aid. If you want to do it yourself the forms are available from the Scottish Government Justice Department.

Welfare benefits

We could see that certain types of equipment would help Mum cope, but there was a lot of expenses involved and we really felt the need for some help to get through the maze that is the welfare benefits system. So we turned to welfare benefits expertise within Alzheimer’s Scotland for that, and found it very helpful and although Mum was a little bit resistant about the idea at first, we did eventually find it very useful. We were able to pay for someone, for example, to come in and help around the home, to do things that I was doing, like extra housework, but it was making her feel quite agitated and it gave me more quality time with her to have these other things done.

There is a range of benefits that a person with Dementia, and in fact their carer, might be entitled to. The Benefits system is quite complex and it is perhaps a good point to start by saying to people it’s useful to go and get help - ask for a benefit check and get someone to help you to claim benefits. So that help is available from a range of places. Local authorities usually have Welfare Rights teams within them who can help. Agencies like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau can help in fact the Department of Work and Pensions themselves can help. They also have a part of Department of Work and Pensions called The Pension Service, which deals with people over State Pension age, have local visiting officers who will come out, sit in someone’s house, work out what benefits they might be entitled to and help them claim them.

The benefits that the person with Dementia or the carer themselves might be entitled to come from a range of things. Some are means tested which means the benefits they may be entitled to will depend upon the income and capital that they have. Other benefits are not means tested and are paid regardless of any income or savings, or other capital that someone might have and I’m thinking particularly of disability benefits which are key benefits, attendance allowance and disability living allowance which are generally paid depending upon the level of care or needs that someone might have and it’s important also, perhaps, to mention that they equally might be available to carer because they may, themself, have some illness or disability.

There are some ways in which it might be useful to help someone with Dementia to manage their money or benefits, and some simple ways which would include being an appointee which is a scheme organised by the Department of Work and Pensions and a carer could ask the Department of Work and Pensions to make them the appointee which would authorise them then to act on behalf of the person with Dementia to manage their benefits and to collect their benefits.

Remember; if you need further information or guidance simply call the Dementia Helpline.

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Reviewed 09 March 2018

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