The statistics for Alzheimer’s disease are staggering with an estimated 5.2 million Americans having the disease in 2014, including approximately 200,000 individuals younger than 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
Unfortunately, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia conditions will escalate rapidly as the baby boom generation ages.
These sobering statistics require that we are prepared in terms of estate planning in the event a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association says that dementia is a general term for the loss of memory, decision-making and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.
If a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, you need to help them make legal plans. It is recommended that you begin as soon as possible, so that the person with dementia will be able to participate.
Before a person with dementia signs a legal document, it should be determined that they understand the document and the consequences of signing it. A medical professional may be able to assist in determining the level of a person’s mental ability.
It is also important to review all legal documents signed by the person before they were diagnosed with dementia. This includes living wills, trusts and powers of attorney. It is important that these documents are reviewed with another individual for corrections and updates.
Among the items that you should discuss with your lawyer include:
Plans for health care and long-term care, including living wills
A living will is a legal document, by which a person makes known his or her wishes regarding life-sustaining or life-prolonging medical procedures, such as resuscitation. A living will can also be called an advance directive, health care directive, advance medical directive, or physician’s directive.
Plans for finances and property, including wills and trusts
A will is a written legal declaration by which a person makes known how their property will be disposed of upon their death. Property includes not only real property (land, house, condominium, business storefront, etc.), but also personal property such as jewelry, art, sports memorabilia, even pets.
Trusts come in all forms and can be straightforward or extremely complex. Simple stated, trusts are a financial arrangement that allows a third party (the trustee) to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. How and when the assets pass to the beneficiary can be controlled by establishing a trust.
Designation of another individual who will make decisions on behalf of the person with dementia, including power of attorney
Power of attorney is a legal document by which Person A gives Person B the power to make decisions about their legal and/or financial affairs upon Person A’s incapacitation. Powers of Attorney expire upon your death.
My goal is to make estate planning as easy and painless as possible. I even provide you with a guide to get you started on the estate planning pathway. Call me at (732) 444-6406 or write me an email to schedule a meeting. I offer flexible appointment times and my fees are reasonable. For most people who don’t require a lot of special planning, one flat fee covers everything.
The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll have the peace of mind in knowing that your family will be cared for when the inevitable happens.
The Law Office of Nancy L. Holm, LLC, a New Jersey Limited Liability Company, is a full-service, general practice law firm located in Monmouth County, N.J., and serving clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can trust our integrity and commitment to your best interests when you have a legal problem. We offer a free consultation and reasonable rates, so that legal representation is available to everyone.