While none of my readers are likely members of the NFL, anyone can act on the great advice the NFL Players Association is provided to its players: get an estate-plan in place before displaying adverse symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Naturally, their advice is prompted by myriad brain studies that demonstrate the link between concussion and these debilitating conditions but there are other predictors of these diseases that all of us need to pay attention to.
Here’s a cautionary tale that explains exactly what the consequences can be without planning in place. Sam Huff, Hall of Fame linebacker and a VP at Marriott lead a full life and rewarding after his football career. He and his partner, Carol Holden, spent 30 years together on his horse farm in Middleburg, Va. breeding thoroughbred horses. In 2012, Sam Huff was diagnosed with dementia.
Huff’s daughter, Catherine, is seeking legal power to make all of Huff’s life and health-care decisions for him. Carol filed an emergency petition seeking to return him to his home and to her guardianship. There’s a court hearing scheduled.
Here’s what should have happen so that Sam Huff’s wishes were following; this plan is effective regardless of whether you play on Sunday or simply watch the game on television:
Find a lawyer with experience in estate planning for Alzheimer’s and heed his or her advice. You need a specialist because Alzheimer’s planning requires a very thorough interdisciplinary legal knowledge, as well as insight into medical and criminal scenarios. An attorney experienced with dementia issues can educate you on why you shouldn’t give your child or spouse durable power of attorney without some type of neutral oversight.
Don’t create family problems. Appoint an independent third party “protector.” This can be a valued friend who has sound judgment and can monitor the conduct of the trustee over your trust and the attorney in fact under your financial power of attorney. This is a pretty new idea, but it helps to address potential financial abuse. A protector can make sure that any actions are in your best interests.
Declare legally that if there’s any change to your estate plan after your diagnosis, there needs to be a medical evaluation to ensure it’s your decision. Changes can be manipulations, especially if your power-of-attorney is also a beneficiary.
Legally provide that a geriatric care social worker be employed to facilitate your care. All of the agencies, facilities, and services create confusion and frustration for family members trying to help. But a geriatric care expert has the knowledge, social service resources, and experience to take care of living arrangements and quality care, which can ease the strain on the family.
Determine your wishes and provide for them. If you really want to live at home, look into how to do so with dementia and set aside the money. You might decide you want to live in a facility. Be sure you state in your estate plan that the location has a good nurse-to-patient ratio and specifically trained Alzheimer’s care.
Virginia’s new laws make it much harder for even well-meaning loved ones to overturn your Durable Power of Attorney and Healthcare Power of Attorney. That means that creating these documents and making sure you get them right is imperative. We’ve made it easier than ever before to request a complimentary consultation so that you can get started on your plan today.
Reference: Washington Post (Sept. 15, 2016) “Today’s NFL players should look hard at Sam Huff’s case; they could be next”