How to Help a Parent with Alzheimer’s Disease Address Their Estate Plan

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, with more than 5.8 million Americans currently afflicted and nearly all of whom are over age 65. If an aging parent either has Alzheimer’s, or is showing early signs of the disease, the best course of action regarding his or her estate plan may be to begin crafting or updating important documents immediately.

A sound estate plan can protect an aging parent’s wealth, and ensure the transfer of assets to designated family members and other named beneficiaries after he or she dies. The plan should also contain additional documents, such as a power of attorney and health care instructions, that are specifically designed to provide care in accordance with the elder person’s wishes.

The difficulty with Alzheimer’s Disease, however, is that it entails memory loss and diminished decision making abilities.

These symptoms also get progressively worse over time. That’s why it’s critical to begin planning early, and to modify an existing plan when life events occur or the value of estate assets change significantly.

Those living with early-stage Alzheimer’s Disease may still be able to engage in social activities and sometimes continue working.

This is an ideal time for the family to come together to have meaningful conversations about finances, health care, and end-of-life decisions.

An initial objective would be to create a comprehensive list of assets and liabilities, and arrive a full picture of the estate. Next, review any existing estate planning documents, if applicable, such as trust agreements or a last will and testament. Has anything changed since the documents were created? Has anything been left out?

Obtaining a power of attorney with a durability provision is also of paramount importance, as it allows for a trusted individual, like an adult child, to act as the legal “agent” for his or her elder parent. Durability allows for decisions to be made when the older adult becomes incompetent. Once obtained and all agree on the steps to move forward, the family can help the senior by beginning to manage bill payments, maintaining insurance premiums, and other financial responsibilities.

Estate planning involves complex laws, taxes, and other intricate considerations. It also requires a look at the potential elder law concerns for the future.

When adding a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s Disease to the mix, time is of the essence to contact an experienced estate planning attorney for guidance.

We encourage you to ask us your questions to ensure that you are provided for in all circumstances.