Many older people will face a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Around a quarter of Americans will develop a cognitive impairment after the age of 65 with half coming down with Alzheimer’s disease after the age of 85. Planning for such an event is important in making sure a person’s needs are met during this time and that their assets are protected.
All families should be concerned about their loved ones coming down with dementia. It is important for families to have legal documents in place before dementia affects a person so much that they can no longer understand what is going on. Legal documents cannot be created after a person no longer has a sound mind.
Documents that should be created include a durable power of attorney. This is a designated person who is authorized to have control over a person’s financial assets. Without a designated power of attorney a family would have to go to court to have a conservator appointed and that process can be long and expensive.
Another important document to have in place is health care directives. A power of attorney for healthcare should be appointed who is authorized to make medical decisions on a person’s behalf when they no longer can. A living will is also included which includes instructions for end-of-life care.
In addition, traditional estate planning documents should also be created. A will is necessary for asset allocation and naming an estate executor. Beneficiary designations are also critical. A person should review all of their financial accounts, including retirement accounts and make sure the beneficiary designations are accurate. Many of these accounts were created decades ago and intended beneficiaries may have changed since then.
A family may also want to create a living trust so that assets do not have to go through probate and can pass directly to their intended recipients.
A legal professional who is skilled in estate planning can help a family plan for Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. Although no one wants to think about these serious matters they affect many families each year. When a plan is in place before symptoms start to show it can give a family great relief to know their loved ones will be taken care of and important matters have already been decided.
Being prepared for the unexpected is always a good idea. Serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s can affect any family and require legal financial documents to be in place before symptoms begin to show.