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Helping a loved one with Alzheimer’s engage in estate planning

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2023 | Estate Planning |

Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible condition that can slowly lead to dementia and other health-related issues. As a result, those who suffer from the disease often exhibit extreme memory loss as well as speech issues, disorientation, and mood swings. The disease can then progress to the point that the body simply shuts down.

If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, then you might be worried about their health, their future, and the future of their estate. This is understandable. But while you might feel helpless in this situation, you should take comfort knowing that there are some steps that you can take to assist your loved one. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Helping your loved one prepare for estate planning

Contrary to popular opinion, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis doesn’t automatically render an individual unable to create a legally binding estate plan. However, your loved one is best off if they can finalize their estate plan while they still have mental clarity.

Therefore, once your loved one receives a diagnosis, you might want to help them with each of the following:

  • Inventory the estate’s assets
  • Identify any of your loved one’s existing debts
  • Consider who they want to make health and financial-related decisions in the event that they become unable to make those decisions on their own.
  • Gather existing legal documents pertaining to the estate, which may include documentation pertaining to retirement accounts and insurance policies
  • Figure out how they want their assets to be distributed when the time comes

Once this information has been gathered, your loved one will have a strong foundation upon which to build their estate plan. Of course, this can be a difficult task to accomplish when your loved one is still reeling from their diagnosis, so try to be understanding and patient with them while still helping them to move towards a finalized estate plan.

What if your loved one is already showing signs of mental decline?

If your loved one is already showing signs of cognitive decline, then helping them create an estate plan can be risky. It may later be alleged that they lacked the requisite mental capacity to create legal documents, and their limitations might even lead others to believe that you exercised undue influence over them. Either way, your loved one’s wishes commemorated in those legal documents might then end up challenged in court, which can be costly, time-consuming, and harmful to your relationship with other family members.

So, if you’re loved one’s Alzheimer’s is already causing problems with their memory and understanding, then you might want to consider other legal options, including seeking guardianship. Once a guardian is appointed over your loved one, then renewed efforts can be made to finalize an estate plan that’s in your loved one and their estate’s best interest.

Develop the legal strategy that protects your loved one and their estate the most

How you and your loved one approach the situation is going to depend on the facts at hand. But as you analyze them, you’ll need to be honest with yourself to ensure that you and your loved one are picking the best path possible.

That can be daunting, especially given their diagnosis, but don’t give up on the estate planning process. After all, you and your loved one might feel a sense of relief once all is said and done. That way you can shift your attention to spending time together and helping your loved one live the best life possible despite their diagnosis.




Photo of Jennifer D. Sharpe