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Why World Alzheimer’s Month matters for our finances

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and 21 September is World Alzheimer’s Day, an international campaign to raise awareness and highlight issues faced by people affected by dementia. Globally, dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face, with nearly 50 million people living with the condition worldwide.

In my book The Money Plan I talk about eight financial foundations we should all be aware of, three of which are essential and five optional. The three relevant to us all are our emergency cash, our will and our Powers of Attorney – and the latter two are not just something to think about when we’re older. I strongly suggest everyone over the age of 18 should have them: an accident or a condition like dementia can affect us from any age.

Why this matters

Once a person loses capacity, they are unable to make their own decisions. From a financial perspective, once capacity has been lost, we can’t access our savings or pension without the permission of the courts.

Ideally, to ensure that there is someone you can trust to make financial decisions on your behalf in such circumstances, you will have arranged a power of attorney to let them legally do so.

But thinking ahead really matters here. Alzheimer’s is one condition that affects capacity and can, in some cases, do so at a rapid rate. The thing with a rapid loss of capacity is that once it is lost, it is too late to appoint an attorney; and it can take many weeks to arrange and register the relevant document with the Office of Public Guardian (OPG).

Making arrangements

There are two types of power of attorney: one for dealing with property and financial matters, and one for dealing with health and welfare. In England and Wales these are called Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs); in Scotland, they’re Continuing Powers.

A precursor to LPAs in England was the Enduring Power of Attorney. If executed before 1 October 2007, an EPA is still valid. But it needs to be registered on the onset of incapacity, which is a drawback of an EPA; they cannot be registered in advance.

An LPA on the other hand can be registered straight away and must be registered before it can be used.

You can make and register an LPA online at gov.uk, or you can use paper forms. A new online service for the attorneys we nominate was also launched by the OPG last July.

As a result of the pandemic there’s been an increased demand for LPAs. According to the latest Annual Report from the OPG, there are currently over 4.7 million LPAs and EPAs on the register.

But given that the Office for National Statistics estimates there are over 52m adults in the UK, there is clearly still more to do to encourage people to take this important step. This month seems like an ideal opportunity to raise this important topic and signpost you to do just that.

You can find out more about LPAs here.

5 things to know this month

September is world Alzheimer’s month, so here are some key facts according to the Alzheimer’s Society about dementia.

  1. There are currently around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK.
  2. By 2040, this is projected to rise to 1.6 million – doubling over a 20-year period
  3. It’s estimated that 209,600 people will develop dementia this year; that’s one of us every three minutes.
  4. One in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia.
  5. There are over 42,000 people under 65 with dementia: it’s not a condition reserved for the elderly.
 

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