IMPORTANT LEGAL DOCUMENTS TO HAVE IN PLACE BEFORE DEMENTIA SETS IN
Dementia not only robs those suffering from it of their ability to lead a normal, productive life, but it also places a caregiving obligation on loved ones. If loved ones can’t care for their parents or others suffering from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia because of their own work and family obligations, it can force them to make many difficult decisions.
Care for those with dementia is also costly. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates in its 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report that total health care, long-term care, and hospice services for those 65 and older with dementia totaled $305 billion in the year of the study.
Certainly, no one wants to contemplate dementia, but it is among many of life’s possibilities that everyone should consider in planning for their future. Dementia is costly not only in terms of payments for services, but also in hours of caregiving needed.
Dementia and other uncertainties in life provide great reasons for planning concretely for one’s future while you still have the capacity to make sound judgments. It has been said that you can never be too young or too old for estate planning, but you can be too late.
The attorneys at The Elder & Disability Law Firm, APC will be happy to consult with you and your loved ones to come up with a concrete estate plan that will cover all life’s possible eventualities, including dementia or another incapacitating disease. The firm proudly serves clients throughout Southern California, including Redlands, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, and Palm Springs.
COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT AND LEGAL CAPACITY
You should move ahead with your estate planning as soon as you can. If you keep putting it off and cognitive impairment begins to set in, you may lose the legal capacity to sign the documents you need to help protect your assets and provide for your care when you face dementia or other incapacitating conditions.
Generally, once dementia strikes you, you may still have the legal capacity to sign and execute the legal documents you need to protect your assets and provide for your ongoing care, but to do so means you must be able to understand the consequences of what you’re about to do. If, for instance, you’re giving someone a power of attorney (POA) to act in your stead to carry out your financial affairs, you must understand that you are relinquishing that right to another person.
In the later stages of dementia, you may lose that capacity altogether, but the best approach is always to execute the estate plan and legal documents you need well in advance of any circumstance or health condition that may make it impossible to do so.
IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS TO HAVE IN PLACE
A last will and testament can be used to distribute assets to your beneficiaries when you’re gone, but it will do nothing to provide for the administration of your assets should you become incapacitated.
A living trust, on the other hand, allows you not only to name beneficiaries, but also to appoint a successor trustee who can manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. The living trust can be accompanied by a power of attorney further authorizing your successor trustee to handle your estate.
An advance health care directive, often called a living will, is a legal instrument that makes known your choices for end-of-life treatment options. You can choose whether to be placed on resuscitation, provided nutrients through artificial devices, or given comfort care through pain-relieving drugs. You can also name a health care agent (friend, family, or associate) to take care of voicing your choices to your attending physician.
If you anticipate needing support from Medi-Cal for your long-term care, you can set up a trust that will protect your assets against forfeiture and also help you qualify under income and asset requirements for the program.
OBTAIN THE LEGAL COUNSEL YOU NEED
Whether you’re young and planning for your future, or you’re reaching the elder years and are worried about dementia or other health challenges, contact The Elder & Disability Law Firm, APC for a consultation. The firm proudly serves clients throughout Southern California, including Redlands, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, and Palm Springs.