What You Need to Know About Estate Planning and Dementia
By Anica Oaks
Recent studies have revealed that just over 46 million people are currently living with dementia, and an older adult who is afflicted might have a very difficult time with their finances and assets. If your aging loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia, then you must both take a closer look at estate planning.
The Basics of Estate Planning
When an individual passes away, their estate is going to pass to their beneficiaries. In most cases, the primary beneficiaries will be family members and loved ones, but certain assets can also be passed to organizations, such as nonprofits. The estate planning process allows an individual to pick and choose where all of their assets are going to go once they pass away and who will make important legal decisions if they are ever incapacitated.
Starting the Process
Following a dementia diagnosis, it is absolutely vital to sit down with your loved one and plan out their estate. During the earliest stages of that disorder, your loved one might still be able to make good decisions regarding their wealth and assets. Unfortunately, there will come a point when making those decisions is nearly impossible, and estate planning is going to be exponentially more difficult when that occurs.
A Living Trust
Creating a living trust is an excellent option for those who have recently been diagnosed with dementia. That legal document places all of an individual’s assets into a trust that they will benefit from until they pass away. After they have passed away, their assets are going to be released directly to their beneficiaries. To write that type of document, you should contact a living trust attorney who has experience with estate planning.
Moderate to Severe Dementia
Once a dementia patient can no longer make sound decisions, it is going to be legally impossible for them to sign any of that paperwork. At that point, your only option will be filing for guardianship of your loved one. You will need to submit proof to the courts that your loved one is incapacitated and can no longer make good decisions regarding their health or finances. While getting legal guardianship over an aging loved one isn’t impossible, that process can be quite complex.
Thinking about one’s own mortality is never going to be easy, but estate planning is a vital part of growing older. With a solid estate plan, your loved one can rest assured that they will be cared for while they are living and all of their assets will go directly to their loved ones after they pass away.