Mental capacity and wellbeing have been in the spotlight again recently after it was revealed EastEnders star Dame Barbara Windsor was suffering from dementia.

The 80-year-old was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago but has steadily worsened causing heartache for her loved ones.

People are now being urged to set up lasting power of attorney to save their relatives the anguish of dealing with their financial affairs after being diagnosed with dementia.

A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that allows you appoint a person to make decisions for you, if you become ill or have an accident and are left unable to make decisions for yourself.

This week is Dementia Action Week, designed to encourage people to help improve the lives of those with the condition in a dementia-friendly environment.

The Alzheimer’s Society say around 850,000 people in the UK have dementia, with a new diagnosis made every three minutes. This is expected to increase to two million by 2051.

Dementia is a disease where it’s impossible to determine how quickly a person will deteriorate. And if a dementia sufferer loses their mental capacity without a lasting power of attorney being in place, their family won’t be able to access funds or sell a property. Instead, they will have to apply to the Court which is costly.

Use a lasting power of attorney to plan for when you no longer have the capacity to make your own decisions – but make sure the person you appoint to handle the decision-making is trustworthy. It doesn’t have to be a solicitor – just someone you trust.

There are two types of lasting power of attorney: one for health and welfare, and another for property and financial affairs.

A health and welfare attorney can only make decisions for you when you’re unable to make them for yourself. These include taking charge of your daily routine; medical care; going into a home; or life-saving or life-sustaining treatment.

A property and financial affairs attorney has the authority to control all your funds and assets. These can include paying bills, collecting pensions and other benefits, buying or selling a property on your behalf, filling in tax returns and dealing with the banks.

The exact decisions they can take depends on what you put in your lasting power of attorney.

Do not wait until the onset of dementia or when you start forgetting things to take action. A lasting power of attorney can be made for anyone aged over 18.

And for a lasting power of attorney to be valid, it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

At QualitySolicitors Amphlett Lissimore, we can help relieve the pressures of creating a lasting power of attorney – from choosing an attorney and deciding what type of lasting power of attorney is right for you, to correctly registering the documentation.

For more information call our private client team on 0208 771 5254.