Receiving a Dementia Diagnosis is life changing. If you do not already have documents in place, meeting with an attorney as soon as possible after a diagnosis can make completing estate planning, establishing powers of attorney, and preparing for long term care and health needs a much smoother process.
When you meet with an attorney to complete your estate planning, the attorney will need to ensure you have the capacity to complete estate planning. To determine whether you have the legal capacity to complete estate planning, an attorney will need to confirm that you (1) understand the nature of your act in making a will; (2) know the extent of your property; (3) understand how the will will dispose of your property; (4) know your natural heirs; and (5.) understand that the will represents your wishes.
Additionally, prior to completing your estate planning, an attorney may require that you obtain a doctor letter/evaluation establishing that you have the capacity to complete the estate planning.
Meeting with an attorney to complete documents to plan ahead for your care and transition of decision-making authority as the disease advances is helpful to make the transition as seamless as possible. Documents we recommend that you establish in addition to a will include a living will, financial power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and remains directive.
A living will is a legal document that expresses how a person who is physically or mentally incapacitated desires to be treated in specific medical situations.
A financial power of attorney allows a person living with Dementia to designate another person to make financial and other decisions on his or her behalf once the individual no longer has the capability to do so for themselves. The power of attorney document can be written so that it is “durable” or in other words, will not be valid until the individual no longer has the ability to make his or her own decisions.
Similar to a financial power of attorney, a health care power of attorney designates another person to make decisions on his or her behalf one the individual no longer has the capability to do so for themselves. Such decisions may include choosing doctors and other health care providers, types of treatment, and care facilities.
Should an attorney determine that an individual does not have the capacity to execute estate planning or Power of Attorney documents, family members, or other individuals, may be required to petition the court to appoint a Guardian or Conservator to make decisions about an individual’s care and property. Having a Guardian and/or Conservator appointed takes time, requires hearings, and requires supervision by the Court.
With the right planning, and Financial and Health Powers of Attorney in place, a Guardianship and/or conservatorship may not be necessary.
Get In Contact With Our Attorneys
Estate planning and planning for the future after a Dementia diagnosis can be incredibly difficult without the assistance of an attorney. Our knowledgeable and experienced Estate and Elder Law attorneys can assist you with your estate planning and elder law needs. If you have any questions please contact our office today.