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Financial and Estate Planning With Brain Disease

The month of June is recognized as Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. During this month, we want to take time to help educate you about specific estate planning and elder law considerations to keep in mind if you or a loved one are facing a diagnosis with one of these progressively debilitating diseases.

It is not easy considering a future when you or a loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or similar disease, but if you do not act to make plans for your estate, you are putting your assets and your family’s future at risk.

Once these diseases reach the stage where a person cannot remember their family members or understand their assets and important documents, they are not able to create or modify an existing estate plan. At that point, the only option is for the family members to file a guardianship. If one has not executed a financial or health care power of attorney, it is necessary to petition the court for a guardian.

If an individual passes away without creating any sort of estate plan, they will die Intestate, which means their estate will be divided according to their state’s Intestacy Rules rather than according to the individual’s wish.

For these reasons, it is crucial to be proactive in creating and updating estate plans when dealing with Alzheimer’s or other degenerative brain diseases. Below, we outline some vital estate and health care planning tools you have at your dispersal that can ensure you, your family, and your legacy are protected.

Advance Health Care Directives for People with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Health Care Power of Attorney

This designates an individual, often referred to as an “agent,” to make health care decisions on someone’s behalf should the individual become incapacitated. This document is commonly referred to as a “health care proxy.” It enables the agent to make decisions and communicate to doctors and health care providers on behalf of the grantor of the power.

Do Not Resuscitate Order

A DNR instructs health care professionals to forego performing CPR if an individual’s heart stops or if they stop breathing. A DNR must be signed by a doctor and placed in a person’s medical chart.

Functionally, a DNR is very similar to a healthcare directive, but there are subtle differences.

Living Will

A living will spells out end-of-life wishes for medical treatment or if the individual is incapacitated and can no longer make decisions regarding emergency treatment.

Advance Directives for Estate Planning for People with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

Similar to a health care POA, a power of attorney for finances is a document granting an individual the power to act on another’s behalf with respect to personal and financial matters. Both the scope and duration of authority is outlined in the document and can be limited by statute in certain states.

Last Will and Testament

A will dictate’s how a person’s assets and estate will be divided upon their death. It is very important for an individual recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a related brain disease to create or update a will as soon as possible after receiving the diagnosis.

Revocable Trust

This is a type of trust that addresses the management of finances and assets while an individual is still living. The document gives instructions regarding the person’s estate and appoints a trustee to hold titles to property and money on their behalf. This enables the trustee to pay bills and make other financial and property decisions once a person can no longer manage their own affairs.

Special Needs Estate Plan

If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with a progressively debilitating disease such as Alzheimer’s, a special needs estate plan is the best option to allocate your assets as well as preserve your loved one’s government disability benefits.

TuckerAllen Can Help

TuckerAllen’s estate planning attorneys can help older adults and their families sort through the complicated intricacies of estate planning and elder law. We understand the heartbreak of receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. We are here to help you and your family plan how you want your wishes to be carried out, understand financial implications, preserve financial assets, and safeguard your legacy so your loved ones are taken care of no matter what lies ahead in the future.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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