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Movie star’s illness: a time to highlight help say legal experts

A Staines law firm has said the loved ones of victims of dementia are being caught up in avoidable heartache, which is adding a huge burden to their plight.

Dale & Newbery Solicitors say news that Lawrence of Arabia star, Omar Sharif is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is a time to explain how thousands of families each year have difficulties dealing with the finances of those who have lost their mental faculties.

“A great number of people lose their mental faculties when they are nearing the end of life, leaving their families in difficult situations, and the news that an intelligent movie star like Omar Sharif has succumbed to Alzheimer’s shows it can happen to pretty much anybody,” said Sharon Pegler, a legal expert at Dale and Newbery, based on Clarence Street.

“The Alzheimers Society say figures of dementia sufferers are expected to top a million in the next decade, so this isn’t a problem which will go away,” she added.

“Many do not know about the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which will allow people to manage money on behalf of family and other loved ones under Lasting Powers of Attorney, which are needed in such situations,” she said.

Ms Pegler explained that a Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document, which allows another person to make decisions where someone has lost mental capacity. It can only be set up when the person is still able to make decisions for themselves.

“Dealing with banks or other institutions on behalf of someone else leaves everyone involved exasperated due to client confidentiality,” she said.

“Think now how difficult that is if the person is not able to make their own decisions?

“It needs emphasising that once a Lasting Power of Attorney is in place it does not mean the person can no longer look after their affairs,” she added. “They can continue as before, but the appointed attorney is there just in case.”

“However, with us all living longer the need for us all to have safeguards in place to make life more manageable is absolutely vital.”