People who have been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, or have a family member in a similar situation, often have a lot of questions when it comes to estate planning. In the best of circumstances, everyone will have an estate plan in place, and the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or any other mind-altering medical condition will be one you have already anticipated. However, there are still steps you can usually take even if you don’t have a plan in place. Here are several commonly asked questions about Alzheimer’s and your estate plan.
Question 1. I don’t have an estate plan and I’ve recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. What can I do now?
Though your options may be more limited, there are still steps you can take. In many, if not most, situations where someone is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, you will still retain your ability to make an estate plan. As long as you act quickly and before the disease progresses to a more significant stage, you should be able to create a comprehensive estate plan without many problems.
If you have a more advanced case of Alzheimer’s disease, or a more significant type of dementia, your options will probably be more limited.
Question 2. I’m worried about my doctors following my wishes if I should lose my mental capabilities. What can I do about it?
Your estate plan will include tools that will allow you to make medical decisions while you are still able to. Known as advance medical directives, these tools give you the ability to make your choices, set them down in a document, and rest assured that your doctors will follow your wishes if you lose your abilities.
You can also create an advance directive that will allow you to name a representative of your choosing. Your representative will be able to communicate with your doctors and make decisions for you when you are incapacitated. If the medical decisions you state in your directives don’t address a particular situation, your medical representative can make that decision on your behalf.
Question 3. I’d like to be assured that someone will be there to manage my money and property if I lose the ability to do so myself. Can I appoint someone to do this?
Yes. You can create a durable financial power of attorney that will give an agent of your choosing the ability to manage your finances. You can also create a revocable living trust that will appoint a successor trustee to take over the trust property should you become incapacitated, as well as other tools that allow you to name various types of representatives.