Financial and legal tips for people living with dementia in Northern Ireland
If you are living with dementia, it's a good idea to get your financial and legal affairs in order. We have advice on sorting out your paperwork and managing your money for people in Northern Ireland.
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Financial and legal tips Northern Ireland
When you’re diagnosed with dementia, there will come a time when you no longer have the ability (known as ‘mental capacity’) to make some decisions for yourself. This means it’s a good idea to get your financial and legal affairs in order while you are still able to.
This can make it easier for you to manage things as your dementia progresses. It also means you’ll get to decide how your affairs will be managed in the future, and who will do this. As well as giving you peace of mind, this can make things easier for those close to you.
The law in Northern Ireland in relation to mental capacity is set to change. However, at the time of publication it’s not possible to say for certain when that will be. The changes will affect the law regarding Enduring powers of attorney, controllership and advance decisions, which are all dealt with in these pages.
Sorting out your paperwork
It can be a good idea to get all your financial and legal papers in order.
Take time to ensure that all your important documents, including any saved electronically, can be found easily. This can also make it easier for someone who is helping you manage your affairs, or who might be managing them in the future if you no longer have the ability to do so.
Your paperwork might include:
- bank and building society statements
- records of mortgage or rent, insurance policies
- your will and Enduring power of attorney (if you have them)
- tax and pension details
- utility bills
- any guarantees.
You could ask someone you trust to help you do this. If you own your home, you should also make a note of where your title deeds are located. These are often held by your solicitor or by your mortgage lender even if you have paid off your mortgage.
You may have your own bank account, or you may have a joint bank account with someone else.
These allow two or more people (the ‘account holders’) to manage all aspects of the account, including paying bills. You might have a joint account with your partner, another family member or someone you have shared expenses with.
Some banks won’t allow a joint bank account to continue if one of the account holders loses the mental capacity to manage it. If this happens, the bank may stop or ‘freeze’ your account unless or until someone has the legal power to act on your behalf. This would usually be someone with an Enduring power of attorney or controllership.
It might be easier to have your own bank account. This means your pension, salary or benefits would be paid directly into your account. Your payments would also go out from this account.
Having your own bank account can also make it easier to manage your money when it comes to paying for care. This is because the local Health and Social Care (HSC) trust should only look at how much money the person who receives the care has, and not how much money their partner or anyone else has.
If you want to have your own bank account but you would like someone – like a close relative or friend – to help you manage it, ask your bank for a ‘third-party mandate’. This allows someone else to sign cheques and manage your account for you. Think carefully about who you ask to do this – it should be someone you know well and trust.
A third-party mandate is only valid while you are able or ‘have the capacity’ to manage your own account. If you lose that ability, the mandate will stop and the person will no longer be able to help you with your account. It would then be necessary for someone with an Enduring power of attorney or controllership to step in to manage the account on your behalf.
Your bank may be able to advise you on ways to keep control of your cash and make paying for things easier. They may offer different payment options such as online banking and contactless. For more information see our booklet on Managing your money.
You should make sure that you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to, as should anyone who cares for you.
For more information see our pages on Benefits for people affected by dementia. You can also check with the Benefit Enquiry Line, the nidirect government website or your local Citizens Advice – see Other resources.
More advice on managing your money
For more information about the different ways that benefits can be paid and how to have someone help you manage them, see our booklet Managing your money.