Dementia Support Improvements ‘Vital To Avoid Costly Estate Disputes’

Specialist Lawyers Call For Early Diagnosis To Avoid Difficult Will Issues


More support must be provided to dementia patients and their families to ensure they are able to make informed decisions about the future, according to specialist lawyers reacting to a new report from the Alzheimer’s Society.

The research by the charity found that 77 per cent of GPs believe dementia patients are reliant on family as they do not get enough support from health and social care services, with half of GPs adding that the NHS is doing too little to care for those with the condition.

It also found that two-thirds believe patients are not getting enough social care provision post-diagnosis, with the research indicating problems with access to services are undermining efforts to diagnose the condition and refer anyone suspected to have dementia for support.

Specialist will dispute lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who last year saw a 53 per cent increase in legal claims related to concerns regarding the capacity of a person who made a will, have warned that a failure to improve diagnosis and support could have significant consequences for patients and their loved ones.

Expert Opinion
“It is incredibly worrying to see these concerns raised regarding dementia care and support, and the ultimate priority must be to tackle these issues to improve the situation for both patients and their friends and family.

“Through our work, we have seen a great number of cases in which disputes have arisen in relation to wills prepared by those who have gone on to develop dementia, with families and friends becoming locked in costly and time-consuming legal battles regarding whether the person involved had capacity when making decisions regarding their estate.

“With this in mind, it is absolutely vital that anyone with dementia is diagnosed correctly at the earliest opportunity, as well as that relevant support services can be provided following the diagnosis.

“This should ensure that steps can be taken to avoid a great number of issues, such as instances when a person with undiagnosed dementia looks to change their will either without realising the impact of their actions or other situations when patients look to amend a will following some level of coercion from family or friends looking to further their own cause.

“Life expectancy continues to rise and with more people living longer than before this issue is only likely to become more prominent. We would urge anyone with concerns about the estate of a loved one to speak to specialist lawyers to discuss the issues they have seen.

“In addition, we would urge anyone who is looking to make a will to ensure it is prepared with specialist solicitors who, as well as providing expert advice, will also ensure the relevant checks are carried out to ensure the person preparing the will has capacity.”
Paula Myers, Partner