Dementia Test: Part Of Financial Planning Journey?

Samantha Warner, Senior Associate at Winckworth Sherwood, comments on whether people should take the new dementia blood test that identifies patterns of four proteins that predicts the onset of the disease. She believes that uncovering the risk of developing dementia presents a valuable opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with loved ones regarding the support users would prefer in the future. 

Dementia Test: Part Of Financial Planning Journey?

It has been two years since scientists developed a blood test that can help predict the onset of dementia more than a decade before symptoms first appear. Although currently only available privately in the US and Hong Kong, recent funding arrangements make the prospect of the test becoming available in the UK through the NHS more likely than ever. 

It is reported that one in two people will be affected by dementia in their lifetime – either developing it themselves, caring for someone with the condition, or both.  The new blood tests, which detect the presence of proteins associated with the development of dementia, could therefore give those patients that choose to take the test an early warning and provide a greater opportunity to plan for their future care.

From an estate planning perspective, the prediction of a future dementia diagnosis could also be an opportunity to get your affairs in order well ahead of a decline in mental capacity.

Your Will

Establishing whether you have a valid Will in place is a crucial first step in organising your affairs and will help ensure your assets pass according to your intentions. You should consider whether your Will is up to date, reflects your current wishes and whether your executors know the location of the original. If you need assistance to make or review a Will, a suitably qualified solicitor will be able to assist.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are useful documents that allow you to appoint a trusted person or persons to help manage your affairs when you are no longer able to do so yourself.

There are two types of LPAs to be aware of:

  • A Property and Financial Affairs LPA allows your attorneys to manage your bank accounts and pensions, pay bills and manage any property that you own.
  • A Health and Welfare LPA allows your attorneys to make health and care decisions on your behalf such as where you live and whether you should receive life-sustaining treatment.

Putting LPAs in place will be particularly important if you believe you are at risk of developing a disorder affecting your mental capacity. Without them, your loved ones would have to apply for a court appointed deputy to make decisions on your behalf – a more expensive and time-consuming process.

Communicating Your Wishes

Discovering that you are at risk of developing dementia is also a valuable opportunity to talk with your loved ones about how you want to be supported in the future. Taking the time to note down how you feel about key decisions an attorney or executor may have to make, such as the type of care you would like to receive or your desired funeral arrangements, will ensure those around you are properly equipped to act in your best interests.

Whilst many may not wish to take the test, using the advance warning afforded by these new blood tests to put your affairs in order, will bring peace of mind and may help ease the burden on those around you as you all deal with the emotional and practical difficulties that dementia can bring.