ESTATE PLANNING AND DEMENTIA: WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER
A special report issued by the Alzheimer’s Association in March 2020 projected that by mid-century the number of Americans aged 65 and older who will suffer from dementia may grow to 13.8 million, up from 5.8 million today. In 2019, the report says, 16 million family members and other unpaid caregivers provided 18.6 billion hours of care to those suffering from dementia, at an estimated cost of $244 billion.
As people’s expected life spans increase alongside advances in medical science, the chances of getting dementia – of which Alzheimer’s is the most frequent disease – also increases. The more you age, in short, the more likely you are to suffer from dementia at some point.
Knowing the odds of facing dementia makes it all the more important to plan concretely for your future and secure your finances, not only for your personal care, but also for your loved ones when you’re gone.
If you or a loved one is facing early signs of cognitive impairment, or if you just want to make sure your future is being properly prepared for, contact The Elder & Disability Law Firm, APC. Located in Redlands, California, the firm proudly serves clients throughout Southern California, including Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, and Palm Springs.
DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR ESTATE
A will or a living trust is the building block of any estate plan. In both of these documents, you can designate your beneficiaries and which assets they will be awarded. In a will, you designate a personal representative to oversee the distribution of your assets. In a living trust, you appoint a successor trustee to basically perform the same estate administration duties.
The big difference, however, is that a living trust does not have to go through probate court. Also, while you’re alive and well, you remain the sole trustee of your estate, but should you become incapacitated, the successor trustee you named is empowered to take over management of your financial affairs.
A living trust can be accompanied by a power of attorney (POA), further authorizing the named trustee to administer your estate. It can be written to “spring” into effect upon your incapacitation.
PLANNING FOR LONG-TERM CARE
If you foresee the possibility of needing Medi-Cal to help provide for your care should you suffer dementia or any other incapacitating disease, you will need to protect your assets and provide a supplemental source of income beyond the benefits Medi-Cal provides. There are legal ways of doing this through setting up what is called a Medi-Cal Asset Protection Trust.
DECISIONS AFFECTING YOUR HEALTH AND TREATMENT CHOICES
An advance health care directive, also commonly referred to as a living will, is a legal document that empowers someone you name to make medical treatment decisions for you when you can’t do so yourself. It also specifies the types of treatment you would like to receive – or to have withheld – when you are incapacitated. The directive gives the health care agent you name the authority of a durable power of attorney for health care to voice your decisions to your attending physician.
Planning for your end-of-life medical decisions and empowering someone to act in your stead can also help avoid a conservatorship hearing by a court, during which the court might appoint a guardian to care for you. In addition to the agent named in the advance health care directive, the court will also look to see if you have named someone to handle your financial affairs, which can be done through a living trust and power of attorney.
GETTING THE LEGAL GUIDANCE
The Elder & Disability Law Firm, APC can help you put in place all the legal documents you need to plan for not only your future but also the future of your loved ones. They are also experienced in dealing with Medi-Cal issues and any requirements by the Veterans Administration (VA) for those receiving disability or medical benefits from that agency.
Call now to schedule a consultation. The Elder & Disability Law Firm, APC serves clients throughout Southern California, including Redlands, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, and Palm Springs.