Advance medical directives are one of the keys to caring for a client with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s patients live for years with diminished mental skills, which makes it crucial that they make decisions early about how their care should proceed.
Alzheimer’s disease is no ordinary condition. It is a uniquely meaningful condition when it comes to estate planning and there are very important steps to take sooner rather than later.
Planning for one’s estate and for one’s late-in-life plans requires more than just a little expertise. This is not only an empirical fact but also a legal one. Because Alzheimer’s and dementia affect the mind, there are certain legal choices that to need to be made before you are incapable of making these decisions. Whether those decisions regard healthcare choices or disposition of property to one’s heirs, your plan must be in writing.
Fortunately, there are some important tools to keep in mind so that you can get a plan in place. Some of the basics were helpfully pointed out in a LifeHealthPro article last month titled “4 things to know about Alzheimer’s and estate planning.”
- Collect Your Documents: All of the important documents should be easily at hand or easily discoverable for when they are needed, not by the patient but by whoever cares for them.
- Property Management: You should have a plan for assets in this life and an estate plan to direct assets thereafter.
- Advanced Directives: These documents spell out important decisions and/or give that decision-making power to others through a Durable Power of Attorney, a Living Will, and Medical Directives (i.e., Do Not Resuscitate order).
- A Living Trust: A trust can be all the more useful in organizing and disposing of property as well as allowing another to manage it, which is that much more powerful for an Alzheimer’s patient. Keep in mind that a revocable trust is not an asset protection plan, that planning can be accomplished with an irrevocable trust.
These are important basic tools when it comes to any estate plan, but timing is everything. To the extent many of us will be affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia, it only stands to reason that we should all be diligent in our basic planning so that when the time comes for asset protection planning, the foundation is established for our loved ones. Whereas, If we procrastinate until it is too late, our loved ones must ask the Court system to intervene and plan on our behalf. Not only is that expensive but it is also inflexible, which is never desirable when we are trying to protect our savings from being completely depleted on our healthcare requirements. All of this is to say, it's imperitive to get your own estate plan in place and work with your elderly loved ones to ensure they have their plans allow you to care for them.
You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: elder law planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.
Reference: LifeHealthPro (March 11, 2014) “4 things to know about Alzheimer’s and estate planning”