When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, it can be hard for you and your family to adjust. Many of the early symptoms of dementia mirror that of aging, so it can sneak up on you if not closely monitored. It’s important to discuss estate planning with your relatives while they are in a sound state of mind to ensure that you are able to execute the plan in line with their wishes.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do in order to protect your loved one. When it comes to estate planning the most important steps are to gather all financial information, establish a power of attorney, and decide upon a health care directive.
Why Do I Need To Gather My Financial Documents?
Memory issues are one of the biggest problems that come with dementia, and so they may begin to forget where they’ve put important information.
It’s important to make sure all important legal documents, especially financial, are kept in one easily accessible location when it comes to estate planning for dementia patients.
Gathering everything together in one place saves you the stress and time of trying to hunt down those documents in the future when your relative’s memory begins to deteriorate. It could be useful to keep these documents within a binder so that they are all together in one place.
On principal, these health care documents should include, insurance documents, health care directives, a will, power of attorney, bank statements, and car titles. Make sure the originals are stored safely, while the copies are given to a trusted relative.
The Importance of Protecting Your Assets & Durable Power of Attorney
It’s important to understand that as your relative’s condition progresses, they may become susceptible to fraud. Setting up measures to protect their assets in the event they fall victim is one of the best ways to keep your relative safe.
One method to ensure this is to establish a durable power of attorney that can help manage your relative’s finance once they can’t. A power of attorney allows a relative to act on your behalf to pay off bills or make financial decisions in your best interest.
However, before establishing a power of attorney, it’s important to make sure that they are trustworthy. Oftentimes, financial fraud is not committed by strangers, but can be by someone your relative deems a “friend”. Keep a close eye on them to ensure that they are taking care of their assets.
Health Care Directive & End-of-Life Treatment
One of the most important steps in discussing you or a relative’s future is setting up a health care directive and deciding what medical care you would or would not like done in the event you are unable to make the choice yourself.
A person’s right to make their own medical decision should not be impacted by a dementia diagnosis. A health care directive allows them the chance to make those choices, even if they are unable to verbalize their wishes.
A health care directive may state what life-sustaining treatments they would or would not like performed, and whether they’d prefer in-home care or assisted living. It’s important to discuss these things with your family members to ensure that they are given the best level of care they deserve.
Finalizing Your Estate Plan
Once you’ve established everything with your loved one, it’s key to review the estate plan to ensure that it’s exactly as they want. In many cases, the goal of estate planning is to make things easier on the surviving relative once their loved one has passed.
These estate plans will explain what the deceased would like for their funeral arrangements as well as how they want their estate (any remaining possession or properties) distributed upon their death. In the case of a loved one suffering from dementia, these estate plans can be even more crucial to ensure they are completed early when your relative is of sound mind.
J.L. Williamson Law Group Can Help
J.L. Williamson Law Group has extensive experience working for the people of Statesboro and Savannah, Georgia, and the surrounding areas. We work hard to cut through the legal jargon and help you make the best decision for you and your loved ones. From Estate Planning to Medicaid and Medicare Law to protecting your rights as a senior or family member, we can help.
With offices in Savannah and Statesboro, we are here to serve you. When you need an attorney who can help you with the tough decisions and offer legal advice in your estate planning, call J.L. Williamson Law Group.