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Ask the expert: managing someone's affairs

Putting plans in place to manage someone’s affairs can be complicated – especially when a condition such as dementia is involved. Jen from the Carers UK Adviceline sheds light on the key things you need to know, and the different options that are available.


You asked:

How do I manage mum’s affairs as her dementia progresses?

My 84-year-old mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia one year ago. At the moment I am trying to care for her in her own home, and want to put things in place to help her manage her affairs as the dementia progresses. I’m finding it difficult to know what to do – what sort of things should I be thinking about?


Our Advisor says:

It’s really important to think carefully and realistically about what the future may bring and how someone’s condition may progress, so it’s great to hear you’re thinking about this already.

Adviceline

There are different ways of helping your mum to manage her affairs depending on whether she is able to make her own decisions at the moment or not. This is often referred to as having or lacking mental capacity.

If it is just benefits that your mum wants a bit of help with then you could apply to be her appointee, and you can do this regardless as to whether she is able to make her own decisions or not. To do this, contact the relevant benefit department.

However, if it is more than just benefits your mum wants help with it does get slightly more complex. The next thing to consider is if your mum can make her own decisions and is likely to continue to be able to do so. If so and she just wants a bit of help with her financial affairs – such as you being able to access her bank accounts – then she could look into making a third party mandate with her bank or granting you ordinary power of attorney. To make a third party mandate your mum would need to speak to her bank. To grant you ordinary power of attorney it would be a good idea for your mum to get some advice from a local advice agency or a solicitor.

However, both of these can only be used while your mum can still make her own decisions. So if your mum can make her own decisions now but wants to make arrangements so that you can manage her affairs if she was unable to make her own decisions in the future, then she could grant you lasting power of attorney. This would mean you would have the authority to make certain decisions on her behalf. When making decisions on your mum’s behalf the decisions have to be in her ‘best interests’.

There are two different types of lasting power of attorney and your mum could just grant one or both types:

• Power of attorney for property and financial affairs, which covers things such as bank accounts, paying bills, collecting benefits or pensions and selling a home. This can be used while your mum can still make her own decisions, if she so wishes, and can then continue to be used when your mum is unable to make her own decisions.

• Power of attorney for health and welfare, which covers things such as medical care and social care. This can only be used when your mum is unable to make her own decisions. To grant you lasting power of attorney there are forms your mum would need to fill out
which can be accessed at: gov.uk/lasting-power-of-attorney

If your mum is unable to make her own decisions now, and there is no lasting power of attorney in place, then this would no longer be an option. Instead, you could apply to be your mum’s court appointed deputy.

If your application was successful it would mean you would have the authority to make certain decisions on her behalf. Again, decisions have to be in your mum’s ‘best interests’.

There are two different types of court appointed deputy and you could apply to be just one or both types:

• Court appointed deputy for property and financial affairs, which covers things such as bank accounts, paying bills, collecting benefits and pensions and selling a home.

• Court appointed deputy for personal welfare, which covers things such as medical care and social care. To apply to be a court appointed deputy there are forms you would need to fill out which can be accessed at: gov.uk/become-deputy/apply-deputy

Find out more on mental capacity and managing someone’s affairs.

To get further expert advice contact the Carers UK Adviceline on 0808 808 7777 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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