Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Estate Planning for Alzheimers

Old people holding hands

Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that affects many Americans every year.  If diagnosed early enough, a person with Alzheimer’s disease will likely retain the mental capacity to sign an estate plan.  These documents should include a Power of Attorney for healthcare, Power of Attorney for property, and a will.  It is vital that these documents are signed in a timely manner, as any delay could prevent the patient’s meaningful input as the cognitive impairments worsen. Provided below are a few steps to guide an Alzheimer’s patient when creating a plan:

  1. Power of Attorney Documents.  These designate to a loved one to make healthcare and asset management decisions when the person affected with Alzheimer’s is no longer capable of making decisions for themselves.  When naming someone to hold Power of Attorney, select an individual you trust to carry out your wishes and act in your best interests.
  2. Last Will and Testament. A will allows the Alzheimer’s patient to finalize their legacy and distribute their estate.  The will should include burial and funeral wishes as well.
  3. Time is of the Essence. Since Alzheimer’s is a progressively declining illness, prompt action is required.  The longer the passage of time from diagnosis to document signing, the more likely the Alzheimer’s affected person will be deemed incompetent.
  4. Finalizing the Plan. Sit down and have a conversation with family and loved ones to discuss healthcare plans and wishes, including discussion of nursing home placement or in-home care.

See Maria Shriver, Life Ed: Protecting Wishes And Assets of Alzheimer’s Patients, NBC News, July 14, 2014.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2014/07/estate-planning-for-alzheimers.html

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