TALKING TO PARENTS ABOUT ESTATE PLANNING WHEN YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT DEMENTIA
If you have aging parents, even if they seem to be doing well, you can never be sure what the future holds. Health issues and other unfortunate events can occur at any time, and if your parents haven’t yet made a plan for tomorrow, life can become challenging and even overwhelming for both parents and offspring.
This is especially true if, as is becoming more and more frequent, cognitive impairment sets in as your parents move past 65, 75, and beyond. In their 80s, people in America are increasingly likely to suffer from some form of dementia, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that one-third of adults 85 or older will suffer from dementia.
The attorneys at The Elder & Disability Law Firm in Redlands, California, have spent decades helping both parents and children put in place the proper legal instruments to protect assets and provide income and resources to care for aging parents.
If you sense a parent is facing cognitive issues, or you fear that age may be taking its toll, contact the firm immediately for a consultation. An attorney can help you review whatever legal documents your parents already have in place and update them, or even create new documents to provide the protection and assistance needed.
The firm is proud to serve individuals and families in and around Redlands, including the nearby communities of Rancho Cucamonga, Palm Springs, Riverside, and anywhere else in Southern California.
TALKING TO YOUR PARENTS ABOUT
Have your parents carried out concrete estate planning to prepare for every possibility, including assistance and caregiving should they face dementia or any other form of incapacitation?
Your parents may or may not have the proper legal instruments in place to protect their assets and provide for any care they need if dementia does set in. You want to discuss this with them, but you understandably find it a hard topic to broach.
Though difficult, it’s important to start the conversation as early as possible. This is especially true if you’ve noticed warning signs in a parent, such as memory loss, difficulty remembering where things are, challenges in carrying out routine tasks, problems communicating, or other troubling signs.
You may want to start with a simple opener, such as, “I was wondering if you’ve noticed the same changes in your behavior that I’ve noticed?” Or more indirectly: “I’ve been considering my own long-term care plans lately and I was wondering if you have any tips for me?”
COMMON ESTATE PLANNING ISSUES RELATED TO DEMENTIA
Property and assets are certainly high on the list of essential concerns. You want to make sure your parents’ lifetime accumulations are protected through a will or living trust.
You and your attorney should review any documents in place and update them. If the documents are lacking or missing, work with a lawyer to create them anew. The point to remember here is that your parents cannot modify or create a new legal instrument unless they still have what is called “legal capacity.”
Legal capacity means they can understand the consequences of what they are agreeing to and fixing their signature to. In some advanced forms of dementia, this may become problematic.
Property and assets are also a major consideration if your parents must rely on Medi-Cal for caregiving support. Medi-Cal imposes income and asset limitations, even to the point that some assets may disqualify your parents for benefits. With the execution of a proper trust, assets could be shielded.
Your parents should also have in place an advance health care directive. A living will is a type of advance health care directive. This document allows your parents to state their choices for medical treatment should they end up in a hospital with no ability to speak for themselves. They can declare in writing their preferences for treatment, including “do not resuscitate.”
As part of the directive, they should assign a family member, friend, or associate to be their health care agent by giving that person a durable power of attorney for health care. This enables the designated agent to express your parents’ wishes to their attending physician.
THE ELDER & DISABILITY LAW FIRM: THE SKILLS AND RESOURCES YOU NEED
Every family is unique. At The Elder & Disability Law Firm, APC, skilled attorneys help individuals and families from all walks of life prepare for the future. When confronting the challenges of something like dementia, it’s vital to ensure all legal documents are updated and in place. Whatever situation you and your parents face, contact the Southern California team at The Elder & Disability Law Firm, APC. They’re proud to serve clients and their loved ones in Redlands, Riverside, Palm Springs, and surrounding communities.