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Estate Planning for People with Dementia

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Although it is important for everyone to plan for the future, it is especially important for people diagnosed with dementia to have a legal plan in place. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one-third of people over the age of 85 have Alzheimer's. With more and more people living over the age of 85, this is a real threat that can impact people’s health and decision-making in the future. Therefore, it is essential that you create a comprehensive estate plan that will protect your wishes, assets, and loved ones.

Our Palo Alto estate planning attorneys have put together tips for our Peace of Mind (POM) community on how to identify warning signs of Alzheimer’s and what you can do to prepare for the future.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s and estate planning in our POM Webinar with the Alzheimer’s Association here.

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

There is often a combination of signs that can help you identify if you or a loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association has put together ten signs to help you determine when a person is experiencing unusual changes in their memory, thinking, and behavior:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems

  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks

  4. Confusion with time or place

  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing

  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

  8. Decreased or poor judgment

  9. Withdrawals from work or social activities

  10. Changes in mood or personality

This list doesn’t constitute a diagnosis of dementia, and could also be a sign of other unrelated illnesses. It is best to speak with a medical professional if you have noticed these changes in yourself or a loved one.

How to Plan Ahead

Nearly 11 million people are unpaid caregivers in the United States. Unfortunately, a person with Dementia is often unable to understand the meaning or importance of a legal document and how it can help them and their loved ones. For such reasons, it is vital to have estate planning documents in place to prepare for the future, especially for those diagnosed with dementia.

Some legal documents that you should have in your estate plan include:

  • Living Will: A living will is a document that expresses how a physically or mentally incapacitated person wishes to be treated under certain medical situations.

  • Power of Attorney: A power of attorney allows a person living with dementia to name another person to make financial decisions on their behalf when they are no longer physically or mentally capable of doing so. This may be a trusted family member or friend.

  • Living Trust: A living trust is another way for those with Dementia to give instructions for how they want their estate to be divided upon their death. Without an estate plan in place, the government will decide how your assets will be distributed.

Get in touch with our Palo Alto estate planning attorneys today at (650) 683-9200 to learn how to get started!

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