Making Legal Plans for Someone with Dementia

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Making Legal Plans for Someone with Dementia

Dementia is a medical condition involving the deterioration of memory and the impairment of reasoning. Even in minor cases, dementia can cause disruption to daily routines. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

The Benefits of Planning Early

It is imperative that legal plans are created soon after a diagnosis of dementia. In this way, the person with dementia will have an opportunity to express his or her desires regarding medical care and estate planning. The person will also be able to designate the individuals who are to make decisions on his or her behalf, and navigate through the legal and financial issues that arise when dealing with long-term care.

Signing Legal Documents

In order for a person with dementia to sign a legal document, it must first be determined that he or she has legal capacity. This is the ability to comprehend and appreciate the results of your actions, and to make reasonable decisions.

Prior to having a person with dementia sign a legal document, it is advisable to talk with the person and discover whether he or she comprehends the document. If you are unsure about the person’s mental capacity, it is best to consult a physician who can help you determine the level of the person’s legal capacity.

Be sure to locate any existing legal documents. If any living wills, trusts, or powers of attorney were previously signed by the person, discover whether the person remembers having signed them. It may be time to review them and make any needed edits and/or updates to the documents.

Health Care and Long-Term Care

It is important to explore various options for health care, long-term care, and coverage offered by Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, and other types of insurance for long-term care. In addition, decisions will need to be made regarding the person’s personal care and property.

In the event that the power of attorney is unable to act on behalf of the person with dementia, a successor agent should be named. Upon signing a power of attorney for health care and/or living will, copies of the documents should be provided to the person’s health care providers.

Should I Consult an Attorney?

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with dementia, consult an elder law or estate planning attorney who can assist you with making decisions regarding health care, long-term care, and managing the person’s estate.

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Last Modified: 05-28-2014 03:18 PM PDT

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