Mike Baldwin's battle with dementia may be gripping Coronation Street watchers but the TV soap's storyline carries a serious message, says Debbie Anderson, a partner with Ollerenshaw Solicitors.
The moves by Mike's son Danny to take advantage of his father's failing mental capacity to steal the family business and his half brother's inheritance highlights the vulnerabilities we all face, according to Ms Anderson who heads the Leamington firm's private client team specialising in wills and probate and Court of Protection work.
She said: "Mike Baldwin needs to act quickly to appoint a trusted person to manage and protect his financial well-being while he still has the mental capacity. Clearly if he does not there will be issues with not only with his personal assets but also the business."
The gripping storyline has been running for a number of weeks, first showing the Street's long-serving character and notorious ladies' man forgetting people's names, then his way home.
But it is Mike's refusal to admit he has a problem that has left him vulnerable to the unscrupulous Danny who manipulates him into breaking off relationships with his trusted partner and other son.
In the UK, the Alzheimer's Society says dementia affects over 750,000 people, 18,000 of whom are under 65.
Dementia can take many forms causing a loss of brain function which is usually progressive and eventually severe. Symptoms of the condition include a loss of memory and confusion together with problems with speech and understanding. While drugs may delay the onset of some symptoms as yet no cure for the disease has been found.
"The storyline shows just how slowly dementia can creep up and affect our powers of reason without our being aware," said Ms Anderson.
"Most of us take our mental capacity for granted but should we lose this due to dementia which can strike the relatively young or through illness and accidents at any age, it important to act now to ensure you have appointed a trusted person to handle your affairs."
Ms Anderson recommends making an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA).
"This allows you to choose someone you trust as an attorney to manage your financial affairs in the event that you become unable to do so yourself," she explained. "An EPA is a powerful document allowing the attorney to have unrestricted access to your finances with authority to deal with them for your benefit only.
"If you lose mental capacity then the attorney must register the EPA document with the Court of Protection in order to continue managing your affairs."
For those who lose mental capacity without having made an EPA, a relative, friend or professional can apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a receiver but this can be costly and long-winded, partly because of the increasing case load faced by the Public Guardianship Office.
The Office acts as the administrative arm of the Court of Protection and helps receivers to carry out their duties properly and monitors what they do to ensure they act in the best interests of the person mentally incapacitated.
A report for Alzheimer's Disease International published in The Lancet last year found a new case of dementia arising every seven seconds world-wide. It estimated 24.3 million people globally currently have dementia, with 4.6 million new cases being diagnosed each year as the population ages.