Cover Image for What Caregivers Need to Know About Estate Planning for a Loved One With Dementia - Part 2

What Caregivers Need to Know About Estate Planning for a Loved One With Dementia - Part 2

Last week, we started our discussion on estate planning for a loved one with a dementia diagnosis and what this means for their ability to protect their wishes through an estate plan. We covered: 

  • What it means to have mental capacity or be incapacitated

  • How dementia affects capacity for estate planning purposes

  • The essential estate planning tools a person with dementia needs to create right away

However, as dementia advances, estate planning demands heightened foresight and strategy to avert legal battles and disputes concerning your loved one's wishes. Delaying planning until advanced stages risks relinquishing asset and care management decisions to unfamiliar judicial oversight.

Continuing from where we left off, let's delve into crucial steps to consider when estate planning for individuals with advanced dementia.

Initiate a Cognitive Evaluation

When cognitive capacity comes under scrutiny, initiating a professional evaluation is a prudent preemptive measure in the estate planning process. Consult your loved one's primary care physician or a dementia care specialist for a comprehensive assessment of their mental state and decision-making abilities.

During the evaluation, the medical professional gauges your loved one's cognitive functioning through situational inquiries and scenario assessments. While complete recollection isn't mandatory, the ability to analyze situations and make rational decisions proves paramount.

A favorable evaluation report safeguards your loved one's decision-making autonomy concerning finances and healthcare, preempting potential disputes over their planning capacity.

Encourage Private Attorney Meetings

While assisting your loved one with appointments is natural, fostering independent meetings between your loved one and their lawyer is pivotal. Private consultations afford your loved one the autonomy to articulate their wishes without external influence.

Even with benevolent intentions, your presence during meetings may raise questions about undue influence on estate planning decisions. Encourage private conversations between your loved one and their attorney whenever feasible, ensuring the documentation of these interactions.

Ensure Diligent Estate Plan Execution

Errors during estate plan execution are commonplace, with each state imposing distinct regulations on document signing and witnessing protocols. Meticulous execution is imperative to forestall potential challenges to the plan's validity and your loved one's decision-making capacity.

Documenting your loved one's capacity during document signing, meticulous review by their attorney, and adherence to their wishes are indispensable measures. Consider recording signing meetings to dispel coercion or misinformation allegations.

Conclusion

For individuals grappling with a dementia diagnosis, prompt estate planning action is imperative. Despite disease progression, sporadic decision-making opportunities may arise, facilitating planning endeavors.

In cases of severe incapacitation and unaddressed estate planning, pursuing a court guardianship becomes necessary. This legal recourse appoints a guardian to oversee asset and healthcare decisions, albeit with potential deviations from your loved one's preferences.

Acting swiftly ensures your loved one's wishes are honored, streamlining their asset and care management as dementia advances. Time is of the essence, making early planning a prudent safeguard against future uncertainties.

To make sure your loved one’s wishes are documented before it’s too late, I invite you to book an Estate Planning Session with my office today. Our team is dedicated to providing compassionate guidance and legal expertise to ensure the well-being and wishes of your loved one are preserved. 


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