“How many of us are reading this and know the importance of having ‘our affairs in order,’ yet haven’t done so ourselves? Having your medical and legal wishes known are important for any of us, regardless of our age.”
When children are born, many people make sure to have their wills prepared, so they can name a guardian in the event both parents die. Usually those documents are not reviewed, says the article “Preparations for the Future” from the Montevideo American-News, and this can lead to problems.
Legal and medical experts encourage people to review their estate planning documents from time to time, to be sure that their wishes have not changed.
When people are diagnosed with a serious illness, they are also encouraged to examine their legal and healthcare documents. It’s also important to have plans in place for people diagnosed with dementia as soon as possible, as long as that person is still deemed mentally competent to make these decisions for themselves.
According to the National Institute on Aging, advance planning should take place immediately after a diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s, while the person can participate in discussions.
People with early stage disease can often understand many aspects and consequences of legal decision making. However, as the disease progresses, the ability to make decisions becomes difficult and the validity of the document may come into question.
Advance directives for healthcare documents that communicate healthcare wishes are just part of the legal documents that need to be created. Other documents include a Living Will, which records a person’s wishes for medical treatment, a durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, which designates a person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf and a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.
Estate planning also needs to be done. An estate planning attorney can help the individual and the family create their plan for the future. There will need to be a Last Will and Testament created, as well as a Power of Attorney for finances, so someone can handle the financial aspect of their life.
A Living Trust may need to be created, to provide instructions about the person’s estate and appoint someone to hold title and property for the beneficiaries. It may be necessary for trusts to be created and funded to protect the family’s assets.
Having an estate planning attorney who has worked with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, will allow the family to focus on caregiving.
Reference: Montevideo American-News (September 25, 2019) “Preparations for the Future”