More than 5 million people in the United States are currently diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a report by the Alzheimer’s Association. This figure is expected to reach 16 million by 2050. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are found in nearly every age bracket, but it has been seen most prevalent in senior individuals, as the same report indicates that every 1 in 3 elderly dies from one of these cognitive disorders.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s have almost similar effects, as they impair a person’s cognitive abilities. It affects their mental capability to remember things as well as their ability to take care of themselves. In a majority of cases, these cognitive disorders are a result of inherited genes from parents. If dementia or Alzheimer’s runs into your family, it is essential that you evaluate your estate planning options before you become incapable of making decisions for yourself and your family.
1. Health Care Directives
If you are planning for the possibility of Alzheimer’s or dementia, you should first get your health care directives in order. These documents allow you to name a trustee and lay out guidelines pertaining to your health and end-of-life care. There are two forms of a health care directive, which nearly serve the same purpose:
- Health care power of attorney – This document enables you to name an agent who will make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are no longer able to do so.
- Living will – This document allows you to put your wishes for end-of-life care in black and white. It also covers guidelines for medical treatments, such as feeding tubes, ventilators, resuscitation, and surgery, as well instructions for pain relief.
2. Financial Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)
With this estate planning tool, you can designate an individual who will gain control over your finances in the event of mental incapacitation. A financial durable power of attorney can be put into effect immediately or can be structured in a way that the authority is transferred after a doctor has certified your incapacity.
Having this document in place can provide a lot of relief to your family. The agent will be readily able to manage your finances and make decisions, which would otherwise require your family to go to court and get a guardian to handle your financial assets.
3. Wills and Trusts
After assigning authority to a trusted person through health care directives and DPOA, you need to plan for leaving your assets to your beneficiaries after your death. Two common estate planning tools for this purpose are wills and living trusts. Both allow you to name your beneficiaries and have peace of mind that your assets will be distributed as per wishes after you have passed away. However, you need to work with an estate planning attorney to determine the best option from the two for your specific circumstances.
It can be difficult to choose the right estate planning tools to plan for the future. That is why it is recommended to hire an estate planning attorney to help you with your plan. Contact the Law Office of John C. Grundy at 330.637.9030 or online to schedule your consultation today.