Legal Planning for Alzheimer’s, Dementias and Related Conditions [4-17-18]
Legal Planning for Alzheimer’s, Dementias and Related Conditions
By Susan P. Bakalar, Esq. and Rayond A. Piccin, Esq.
Creating a plan for your future in the early stage of a disease process such as Alzheimer’s or other related Dementias can be empowering and assists you and your family in ensuring that your specific, individual wishes are met. The sooner you establish your legal plans, the better prepared you and your family will be. With a plan in place, you can then focus on enjoying your life.
The Basics of Legal Planning
When it comes to planning, the old adage goes that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is true in all aspects of life and is especially true in legal planning. Many people are scared of facing the inevitable truth that everyone will age, and everyone will eventually cease to exist. The steps that you take in planning for aging and making your wishes know is one of the most important and personal thing that you can do.
Many people feel overwhelmed by the entire planning process and this is where a skilled legal team can assist in making the process straightforward and understandable and takes the mystery and fear of the unknown away by establishing a process with clear goals and transparent understanding. AN attorney can assist with preparing and completing required paperwork, discuss options for health care decision making, options for managing your person care and property as well as understanding and dealing with Medicare, Medicaid as well as veteran benefits and long term care insurance.
Legal Planning should include:
1. Taking an inventory of existing legal documents and reviewing same for any necessary updating and compliance with laws as they may change from time to time.
2. Planning for finances and property use and disposition.
3. Planning for your future health care and long term care and preferences. This includes preferences about treatment, care and end of life wishes.
4. Naming another person to make important decision if you are no longer able to make competent.
5. Becoming familiar with the specific legal issues, future care options and financial issues pertaining to dementia
Part of the process of legal planning includes to your capacity or ability to execute legal documents. Legal capacity refers to the ability to understand and comprehend the consequences of one’s actions as it relates to the ability to make rational and well thought out decisions.
Certain legal documents may have different levels of required legal capacity and the level of capacity required can differ between documents. It is also very important to remember that forms completed during the legal planning process are not implemented until you no longer have the legal capacity to make decisions on your own.
Specific legal documents are drafted with the intent to allow for others to ensure that your wishes are followed. The documents make it possible for others to implement and follow your wishes when you are no longer able to make competent decisions on your own. The arsenal of legal documents needed depends on many factors but generally includes a Durable Power of Attorney (often times referred to as a POA), Designation of a Health Care Surrogate, a Living Will and/or a Trust.
A Durable Power of attorney will allow a designated person or persons to make decisions related to your finances, assets and investments when you are no longer able to do so for yourself.
A Designation of Health Care Surrogate allows for a person to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are no longer ale to do so for yourself and includes making decisions related to Doctors, types of treatments, care facilities, end of life decisions such as the use of feeding tubes and do not resuscitate orders (often times referred to as a DNR order).
A Living Will is a type of advanced directive which enumerates the type of treatments that you and do not want near end of life such as life extending treatments. This is a document which must be prepared and signed prior to the point in time when the disease progresses to an extent where you are not able to make intelligent, rational decisions on your own.
A Living Trust is a document which gives direction as to the disposition of your assets and property. A living will designates a trustee who is appointed to follow and implement your wishes when you are no longer able to do so for yourself.
If you have a loved one that you would like to make sure is protected, make sure they have the right type of estate plan that will protect them should Alzheimer’s or dementia become reality. If you’d like to discuss these matters we can offer you a complimentary consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss your particular needs.
Bakalar & Associates, P.A.
12472 West Atlantic Blvd.
Coral Springs, FL 33071