Alzheimer’s is no ordinary condition. What it means to the patient and to their mind is simply unique, just as it is uniquely meaningful to the family. Unfortunately, it is also a uniquely meaningful condition when it comes to estate planning and there are very important steps to take sooner rather than later. Planning for one’s estate and for one’s late-in-life plans requires more than a bit of wherewithal. This is not only an empirical fact but also a legal one. Because Alzheimer’s and dementia affect the mind means certain legal choices, whether regarding healthcare or disposition of property to one’s heirs, simply have to be down and in writing well before they are questionable. It’s a complex problem. Fortunately, there are some important tools to keep in mind early and get a plan in place. Some of the basics were helpfully pointed out in a LifeHealthPro article last month titled “4 things to know about Alzheimer’s and estate planning.” The four things? • Collect Your Documents: that is, all of the important documents should be easily at hand or easily discoverable for when they are needed, and not by the patient but by whoever cares for them. • Property Management: perhaps more appropriately, you should have a plan for assets in this life and an estate plan to direct assets thereafter. • Advanced Directives: these documents spell out important decisions and/or give that decision-making power to others through a Durable Power of Attorney, a Living Will, and Medical Directives (like a Do Not Resuscitate order). • A Living Trust: a trust can be all the more useful in organizing and disposing of property as well as allowing another to manage it, which is that much more powerful for an Alzheimer’s patient. These are just the basics. Regardless, and not without coincidence, these are important basics steps and tools when it comes to any estate plan. Planning in anticipation of Alzheimer’s is no different than the planning one ought to do anyway. But then, to the extent many of us will be affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia, it only stands to reason that we should all be diligent in our planning. Once we have one of these conditions, it could be too late to plan for anything. Be sure to get your own estate in place and work with your elderly loved ones to ensure they have the plans in place allowing for you to care for them.
Reference: LifeHealthPro (March 11, 2014) “4 things to know about Alzheimer’s and estate planning”
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