Ask the Expert: My father has Alzheimer’s – how can we protect his finances for him?

Dealing with the finances of a relative with dementia can be a delicate affair. Picture: Getty Image

Dealing with the finances of a relative with dementia can be a delicate affair. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

My father is showing the early signs of Alzheimer's. How can I make sure he keeps control over his finances? Carl Lamb from Almary Green responds.

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green - Credit: Archant

My father is becoming increasingly confused in his old age. How can we ensure that he is financially secure and still involved in his finances until he can no longer act for himself?

He has been diagnosed with the early symptoms of Alzheimer's. He has a significant portfolio of investments but has always kept details of these to himself.

Response from Carl Lamb of Almary Green

I'm sorry to hear that your father is facing the prospect of Alzheimer's.

The very first thing to check is that he has a lasting power of attorney in place ready for when he does become unable to act for himself. This should be set up while your father is still able to make his own decisions but will only be invoked when it is needed, so he shouldn't feel that he is devolving power to others before it is necessary. If you wait until he has lost capacity, you will need to apply to the Court of Protection to act on his behalf and that can take some time.

Does your father have a financial adviser? If so, then it's important that the adviser understands and is sympathetic to your situation.

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If at all possible, it would be useful for you to attend any review meetings with your father to understand what savings and investments he has and how/where they are managed.

Most advice firms will have safeguarding procedures in place to protect vulnerable clients so that, for example, any decisions that are out of character are identified and the appropriate action taken to ensure this isn't because of a progressive deterioration such might happen with someone living with dementia.

Some firms will have provided Dementia Friends training for their staff to ensure clients are treated with respect and care.

It would be useful for you to make a note of the financial arrangements your father has in place so that you can easily track down accounts and investments when needed.

My best advice is to talk to your father and reassure him that you are not looking to pry into his finances but that, by involving you, he is ensuring that you can act as his power of attorney when the need arises with a full understanding of his circumstances and preferences.

It's likely to be important to him that you continue to accept his decisions for as long as you can, so don't try to impose your values on him but assure him that when you do need to take over control, you will bear his usual attitudes and wishes in mind.