Alzheimer’s and their loved ones also face unique challenges in the future. It is a more common disease than some may think. The National Institute on Aging estimates that Alzheimer’s Disease impacts over 5.5 million Americans. The degenerative brain disease causes cognitive impairment that worsens over time. The nature of Alzheimer’s must be accounted for when approaching estate planning for an impacted individual. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s here are some things to take into consideration as your broach the topic of estate planning.
Estate Planning Considerations for those with Alzheimer’s
While Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in younger people, it is most often diagnosed when symptoms present themselves in people in their 60s. Most commonly associated with memory loss and cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s progresses at different stages and can eventually leave a person with communication and other physical impairments. There is currently no known cure.
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can help patients better manage the disease as well as give them time to make any necessary plans. Unfortunately, however, the milder symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as forgetfulness, is all too often dismissed as a mere sign of aging. Because of this, Alzheimer’s can often be left undiagnosed completely or undiagnosed until it progresses to later, more severe stages.
Because of the degenerative mental state of those living with Alzheimer’s, it is more important than ever that estate plans be put in place right away. The earlier this is done, the more likely the person will have the legal mental capacity to participate in the creation and execution of these critical legal tools. To address any potential issues later on, it may be a good idea to get an affidavit from a treating physician addressing the person’s mental capacity and ability to acknowledge the nature, importance, and impact of legal documents being put in place.
An estate plan for someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s should address issues that may arise in his or her remaining years. When the time comes when Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point that the person is unable to manage his or her legal and financial affairs, who will be tasked with taking on these responsibilities? They will need to be appointed through a power of attorney. Who will be empowered to make healthcare choices when the impacted individual becomes incapacitated and unable to communicate these wishes for himself/herself? These are all important questions that need to be confronted.
Furthermore, estate plans should address what will happen after the person passes away. How do they want the remaining assets distributed? Who do they want to be designated as the personal representative of the estate?
When addressing estate planning issues with someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it is also a good time to address plans for long term care. While there may be willing family members to assume the role(s) of caretaker, a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will likely require more intensive, full-time care than a family member can provide. In structuring an estate plan, the continued care of the diagnosed individual should be taken into account. Steps such as the establishment of a trust or evaluating what government benefits he or she will have access to will also be important considerations.
Minnesota Trusts and Estates Attorney
If you or a loved one are coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnoses, Unique Estate Law is here to help you put legal tools in place to help protect your future. Such a diagnosis can be difficult to process. We are here to help bring you some peace of mind as you establish a comprehensive estate plan to meet your unique needs and goals. Contact Unique Estate Law today.