Is someone with dementia allowed to sell their house?

can a person with dementia sell their house uk

Selling a house can be complicated at the best of times, but if the person who owns the house has dementia, things can get even trickier.

There are many reasons why someone with dementia may need to sell their home.

As their dementia progresses, they may need to downsize to a smaller house or relocate to be closer to relatives who can help to care for them.

If they can no longer live independently, it may make sense to sell their home if they are going to live with a relative or in a care home to help to pay for care costs.

Whatever the reason for selling property belonging to someone with dementia, there are laws and processes in place to ensure that the sale only goes ahead if it is in the person’s best interests.

In this article, we will explain more about the processes in place to help a person with dementia to sell their property.

Can someone with dementia sell their house?

A person with dementia can sell their house if they are deemed to still have the mental capacity to do so.

Because dementia is a progressive neurological condition, over time, symptoms will get worse and the person with the condition may lose their ability to make important decisions for themselves.

To learn more about the condition and its challenges, read our article ‘how can I understand dementia better’.

During the early stages of dementia, when symptoms are mild, a person with dementia may not need any help with selling their home.

However, during the later stages, their condition may impair their ability to deal with the process and make important decisions regarding the sale of a property.

The law says that people with dementia should be assessed, to find out whether they have the mental capacity to make a certain decision at a certain time. For big decisions, like the sale of a property, a professional must carry out the assessment.

If the assessment says that they do not have the mental capacity to make the decision, then it will be passed over to a person with the legal responsibility to make the decision and act in their best interests.

Processes in place for selling a house for someone with dementia

The decision can be made to sell a house for someone with dementia if it is in their best interests to do so and their rights are being respected.

However, the decision can only be made by someone with the legal right to do so. This is usually a Deputy or the person’s appointed Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs.

It is simplest to sell a house for someone with dementia if they have planned ahead and made you their Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs whilst they still had the mental capacity to do so. An LPA can make decisions about selling property without applying for consent from the Court of Protection.

If the person with dementia does not have an LPA, then no one has the legal authority to sell their property until a deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection.

Are there rules surrounding this?

In England and Wales, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 protects vulnerable people who do not have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. This legislation is very important in helping to protect the best interests of those with dementia, particularly as the condition progresses and their cognitive ability declines.

The Mental Capacity Act’s Code of Practice may be very useful in helping to ascertain whether a person with dementia can make the decision to sell their property themselves.

The Act also helps those with dementia to plan ahead and appoint their own Lasting Power of Attorney, a person who they trust to make important decisions for them if they lose mental capacity.

Appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney during the early stages of dementia can help to make big decisions like selling property simpler later down the line. It also gives the person with dementia peace of mind that their best interests will be protected, and their wishes respected as their mental capacity declines.

What steps should be followed?

If a person with dementia wishes to sell their property, the following steps should be taken to ensure that the decision is made, and the task carried out according to the law and their best interests.

Have a discussion

Firstly, if a property belonging to someone with dementia is to be sold, then they should be consulted on the decision as much as possible and their views and opinions should be carefully considered, even if they are not believed to have the mental capacity to make the final decision themselves.

Assess mental capacity

Next, you should establish whether the person with dementia has the mental capacity to decide to sell the house and complete the process themselves. For important decisions, like the sale of property, this assessment should be carried out by a professional.

If they can complete the sale themselves, then it may help to be on hand to offer support throughout the process if they would like it.

Consider best interests

Assess whether the sale of the property is in the individual’s best interests by consulting with the person with dementia’s family members and carers. You should consider the person’s past and present wishes, feelings, beliefs, and values at this stage.

Lasting Power of Attorney

If the person with dementia is found to lack the mental capacity to sell the property themselves and it is believed to be in their best interests to carry out the sale, the next step is to find out if they have appointed a Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs and if so, who it is. If they have, then this person has the legal authority to carry out the sale on their behalf.

Or, gain Deputyship

If they do not have an LPA in place, then you will need to apply for deputyship to carry out the sale.

You do this by applying to the Court of Protection. This route can take several months and is more expensive than applying for an LPA, but if the person has already lost the mental capacity to appoint an LPA, then this is the next best route.