Incapacity planning for those diagnosed with dementia

Almost every San Jose area family has at least one family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s. A dementia diagnosis is common among older adults, but it can still be a disheartening family event. When a person has been diagnosed with dementia there are estate planning steps that should be taken in order to protect them and their assets.

Advance directives

A person who has been diagnosed with dementia should sign or update their advance directives. These should include a living will, health care power of attorney and power of attorney. The main benefits of these documents are to avoid a guardianship hearing for a person who is incapacitated which can be complicated and stressful. By signing these documents in advance, a person is able choose the people they want to represent their interests instead of the government deciding.

A living will allow a person to express their wishes with end-of-life decisions. A health care proxy is a person designated to make medical decisions on the person’s behalf and a power of attorney can make legal and financial decisions.

Review wills and trusts

In addition to advance directives, a person diagnosed with dementia should review their existing wills and trusts. If a will or trust does not exist, it is important that one is created in order to protect a person’s assets. These documents should be created as soon as possible so that they are not challenged in court. An attorney can recommend certain trusts that can also save trust assets from going to nursing home costs or home care paid by Medicaid.

Estate planning attorney

A legal professional who is skilled in estate planning can help a family understand how estate planning can help with many uncertainties they may now be facing. A thorough estate plan can be a gift for families who may be feeling stressed by the dementia diagnosis and not know what to do next. Instead, these families can focus on being with their loved one knowing that the legal and financial issues are protected.