Planning ahead

A dementia diagnosis is likely to mean you have to start making changes to how you do things. While you probably won’t have to change much straight away, it's good to start thinking about how you can make life easier for yourself. 


There are several things you can do to prepare for your and your family’s future. You should seek professional legal, financial and medical advice as soon as possible while you can still take part in the discussions, share your wishes, and have the legal capacity* to sign any documents.


Public Trust offers free half hour consultations for people with dementia, their families and supporters. The consultations can cover topics like your will, power of attorney or setting up a trust. To book an appointment and to find out more visit the Public Trust website or call Public Trust on 0800 156 015.  

 Money matters

You may need help managing your finances in the future, so think about:

  • discussing your financial situation with a financial advisor – how best to structure your affairs so you are well taken care of and your interests protected
  • talking to your family and whānau about how they can access your finances if you are having difficulties managing your money
  • having joint signatures on your financial accounts – this can make it easier for trusted family and whānau to support you later.

Visit the Citizens Advice Bureau for more help and information

 Enduring power of attorney

It’s a very good idea to set up an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) as soon as you can. In fact it's a good idea for all adults should have one, even if they’re perfectly healthy.

EPAs are legal documents in which you nominate a person or people (your ‘attorney/s’) to look after you and the things you own if you become incapable of looking after them yourself. There are two types of EPA – one for your personal care and welfare (for decisions about matters such as your medical treatment and where you live) and another for decisions about your finances (bank accounts, assets, property).

You must set up an EPA while you are still mentally capable. That’s why you should consider seeing a legal professional to set up an EPA as soon as possible after your diagnosis, if you haven’t already got one in place.

A personal care and welfare EPA is enacted only after a medical professional has decided you can no longer make good, safe decisions for yourself.

Setting up an EPA means:

  • you get the chance to decide who will make deiaions for you in the future
  • you can discuss with that person what you would like to happen with your care and finances
  • it is very clear to your family and whānau who you would like to make decisions for you and what you would like those decisions to be.

Once you’ve set up an EPA, make sure you give copies to family members, your attorney/s, your doctor, and that you keep one for yourself.

If you don’t set up an EPA, your family may have to apply to the Family Court for the power to make decisions for you and that will cost money and time. It may also mean you end up with someone you didn’t choose looking after you and your affairs.

The Ministry of Social Development has more information about EPAs and how to get one.

 wills

A Will is about how you want your estate – your worldly possessions – to be distributed after your death. Like an EPA, a Will is only legal if you are capable of understanding what it all means when you sign it.

That’s why, just as with an Enduring Power of Attorney, it’s recommended you make or update your Will as soon as you can, that you appoint a trusted Executor and that your family knows where a copy is kept.

The Public Trust can help you create a Will that suits your needs.

 advance care planning

Like an Enduring Power of Attorney or Will, an Advance Care Plan (ACP) gives you the chance to set out what you want to happen in terms of your future care and treatment.

You write your ACP to help your doctors and family know what medical treatment (or no treatment) you would want in certain situations, particularly if you can no longer make yourself understood. Think about what you might like to happen, then talk it through with those looking after you. Next, write down what you’ve decided and share it with your family/whānau and doctors

Get started by visiting the Advance Care Planning website

 

See our Useful links page for other helpful websites and agencies