Navigating Dementia Caregiver Estate Planning Part 1
Caring for a loved one with dementia involves navigating an emotional journey filled with unique challenges. As a caregiver, understanding the impact of dementia on your loved one’s legal decision-making is essential. Because, it’s not only about providing the best care but also about actively safeguarding their rights. Here, we’ll discover the world of Dementia Caregiver Estate Planning, how it can protect your loved one’s rights and wishes, in the face of a dementia diagnosis.
Grasping the Concept of Incapacity
Dementia is a progressive condition that gradually erodes memory, cognition, and daily functioning. Dementia takes its toll on your loved one’s cognitive abilities. There may come a time when they can no longer make informed decisions about their finances, healthcare, and overall well-being. This stage is known as incapacity, during which they forfeit the legal ability to make healthcare or financial decisions for themselves.
Witnessing your loved one’s memory and cognition decline can be a heart-wrenching experience for your entire family. Without proper planning, incapacity can lead to legal complications. But thoughtful estate planning can ensure trusted individuals will care for them, even if they can no longer care for themselves. Importantly, even with dementia diagnosis, it’s possible to create a estate plan during the early stages of the disease.
Early-Stage Dementia Caregiver Estate Planning
Every adult, including one with dementia, should have specific legal documents in place to protect their rights and wishes. The key is mental capacity; a person must be fully aware of their actions and consequences when creating a legal document.
The good news is that they don’t need to maintain a constant state of capacity to create an estate plan. However, they must possess mental capacity at the moment they sign their estate plan documents. That way those documents remain valid, even if they regress into incapacity afterward.
General Durable Power of Attorney
A General Durable Power of Attorney (POA) is a pivotal legal tool. It empowers your loved one to designate someone to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf. This individual can write checks, pay bills, maintain their home, and manage their financial assets. As dementia progresses, the importance of the POA becomes increasingly evident. Encourage your loved one to nominate a trusted individual as their Power of Attorney while they are still capable of making decisions.
Establishing a Revocable Living Trust
While a General Durable Power of Attorney is crucial, some financial institutions may impose limitations or refuse its authority. To protect your loved one’s financial wishes, we suggest establishing a Revocable Living Trust and transferring assets into it. When creating a Trust, your loved one will appoint the person they want to oversee their assets. This person is known as the Trustee. Usually, the Trustee and Power of Attorney are the same person, but this isn’t always the case. These two tools together ensure that individuals your loved one knows, and trusts, can manage their assets as dementia progresses.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare
Power of Attorney for Healthcare (HPOA) designates someone to make medical decisions when people are incapable of doing so themselves. Establishing it early on allows the person to express their medical preferences and ensures that their wishes are respected. A Living Will outlining their medical treatment, life support, and end-of-life care preferences, should be included. Creating this document, discussing their wishes with you, and identifying their preferences concerning life-sustaining treatment and other medical interventions ensures wishes are honored.
Don’t Wait To Plan
A critical step in dementia preparation is helping your loved one complete estate planning while they have capacity. Waiting until the later stages of the disease can limit their options and heighten stress levels for everyone involved. Addressing legal matters early ensures wishes are upheld and affairs are managed as intended by trusted individuals, without legal intervention.
Stay tuned for next week’s post, where we explore estate planning options and strategies to prevent family and legal disputes regarding your loved one’s care. To delve deeper into this topic, click here to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with our office.
Dementia caregiver estate planning is about securing a future where your loved one’s rights and wishes are upheld. Take proactive steps today to provide the best care and protection possible.
This article is a service of the Law Office of Aisha M. Williams, APC, serving San Diego, Carlsbad, Escondido, and all of California. We don’t just draft documents. We ensure you make informed decisions about life and death for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we’ll start you with a Family Wealth Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love.
We created this material solely for educational and informational purposes. It does not serve as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. Should you need legal advice tailored to your specific needs, you must seek such services independently.