Dementia is a disease that slowly degrades the mental functions and capacity of its victims. Persons with dementia do not only suffer short-and-long term memory loss; they also lose the ability to reason, understand, and carry out basic mental operations. It is a difficult condition to live with because it comes on slowly and the person with it tends to be unaware that they are being affected by it.
If you are the relative or caretaker of someone with dementia, it is important to help them establish an estate plan now while they are still relatively clear-headed and healthy. The sooner such plans are put into place, the more likely it is that your loved one will have their wishes honored when they enter the final stages of the disease.
You should contact an estate planning lawyer. They specialize in these matters and will help you formulate a detailed, thorough, and legally sound plan. The planning should include:
- Future health needs
- Financial arrangements
- Naming an agent to make decisions when they can do so no longer
As long as your loved one can read and understand the documents presented to them, they can make decisions regarding these matters. One of the first things a lawyer will do is determine their fitness to carry out the planning. In doing so, they will need to discuss all documents, ensure that the person understands the documents and the consequences of signing them, and ask for medical advice when necessary.
Estate Planning Documents
Here are some of the documents that the attorney will help your loved one draw up and sign:
1. A will
A will is a document that names an individual to be executor; it also names beneficiaries. The provisions of a will go into effect upon the death of the person who made it.
An executor is responsible for managing the estate and the distribution and division of assets and property. The beneficiaries are the people who get the assets upon the passing of the will maker. It is important to note that an executor has no legal authority to override the decisions of the person with dementia while they live.
A will does not stipulate health care choices, but it can offer peace of mind to the will maker. It will allow them to set out their intentions for who is to get what once they pass. An individual diagnosed with dementia should make a immediately. There is no time to lose.
Laws regarding wills vary by state