July 19, 2013   Disability & Illness

Estate Planning With Dementia on the Rise

estate planning for dementia Dementia is a syndrome that causes deterioration of cognitive function. As the baby boomer generation continues to age, so does the number of people who are affected by dementia. Perhaps more alarming, dementia is more commonly being diagnosed among individuals in their 50s. Although you may never have to deal with the challenges that a diagnosis of dementia can bring, it is still vital that you complete your estate plan early, while you have the mental capacity legally required to make estate planning decisions.
In order to maintain an indicia of control over the medical care you receive after you become mentally incapacitated, it is important to complete a Health Care Power of Attorney, as well as a Living Will. A Health Care Power of Attorney designates the person who you would like to make medical decisions for you once you become incapacitated. A Living Will describes what type of medical care you would like to receive, and under what circumstances you would like medical care to be stopped. When completing these documents, there are three important considerations you must make:
  1. Where would you like to live and receive treatment? For instance, would you like to receive care in the home, or be moved to a specific assisted living facility?
  2. Who do you trust to make financial and medical decisions for you?
  3. How will you pay for your care?
An individual must possess adequate mental capacity to make decisions and execute legal documents such as a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will. After a diagnosis of dementia, therefore, it may be impossible for a person to execute these documents or amend existing ones. In order to make medical decisions for a person who has been deemed incompetent and has not executed a Health Care Power of Attorney, an individual would have to seek a legal guardianship over that person. 
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