Advance Planning for Alzheimer’s Disease
By Elder Law estate Planning Attorney Rick Law of Law Elder Law in Aurora, IL. Providing legal services to the residents of Kane County – Estate Planning, Elder Law, Probate, Guardianship, Wills and Trusts, and much more! People with the early or mild stage of Alzheimer’s may retain their mental faculties for months or even years. At this stage they may only experience short episodes of impaired mental function and can still receive, understand, and evaluate information. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s does progress. As the disease advances, episodes of dementia may become more frequent and may last longer. Eventually, the disease will reach the point where the individual may no longer meet a state’s legal test for “capacity” and will no longer be able to execute a valid and enforceable legal document. The requirements vary from state to state, but “capacity” generally is defined as the mental ability to perceive and appreciate relevant facts and make rational decisions. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, it is very important to begin planning as early as possible so that the person with dementia can participate as much as possible. Advance planning also avoids the issue of family members having to make important decisions during a crisis on behalf of the individual suffering from Alzheimer’s. Failure to act quickly at the time of diagnosis may cause the patient to run the risk of not being deemed “competent” and a court may have to step in and appoint a guardian. The good news is, a qualified Elder Law attorney may be able to help with:
- identifying and completing legal documents such as wills, trusts, and deeds;
- interpreting state laws;
- making plans for medical and treatment decisions;
- making plans for finance and property; and
- helping to name another person to make decisions on his or her behalf when the patient no longer is able to do so.