People urged to take control of own affairs during Dementia Awareness Week

Lawyers at a leading North Wales/Shropshire law firm are urging people to contact them during Dementia Awareness Week which runs 18-25 May, to find out what steps they can take now to prepare for the future, in case they lose the capacity to handle their affairs later on.

John Marshall, a partner with leading law firm GHP Legal, said: "There are 670,000 people living in the UK today with dementia, some of whom will not even yet be aware they have it. Dementia has no gender or sex barriers and although it affects mainly older people we know there are 15,000 sufferers in the UK who are under 65.

"The fact that dementia can affect younger people, in particular, is something that can easily be overlooked by both the person themselves and their families. Even professionals can be slow to consider dementia as a possibility with younger people. But whatever age people get dementia, it is a progressive illness which means the symptoms will gradually get worse. This is why we need to raise awareness of the importance of making plans for our own future whilst we still can.

"Deciding who will manage your financial affairs when you are unable to do so for yourself is critical as once capacity is lost you cannot appoint an attorney to do the job and someone would then have to apply to the Court of Protection to become your deputy in order to manage your financial affairs.

"In such a situation the court has the final say and may in fact decline to appoint a member of your family in favour of appointing a professional deputy, which can be a very costly process. Clearly, appointing your own attorney whilst you have the capacity of mind to do so is a better option. This could be a trusted friend or family member, or it could be a professional such as a Solicitor.

"Another alternative is to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (Property and Affairs). But every set of circumstances and needs are different, so I would urge people to act during Dementia Awareness Week and find out in detail what their options are."