Too many people believe the term “dementia” is synonymous with Alzheimer’s Disease. In reality the two are not necessarily the same. Instead, dementia is a term for certain medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease. These conditions involve significant impairment and loss of memory, speech, thinking and similar functions.

That being stated, we want you to know this National Elder Law Month, that Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for the majority of dementia diagnoses. Vascular dementia, which is caused by infinitesimal bleeding and blocked blood vessels in the brain, is also fairly common.

If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with dementia, now is the time to start planning for the future, or change existing plans. Making or amending an estate plan is an important part of this process. This is something you can legally do as long as you still have the legal capacity to act for yourself.

Let us share a few estate planning tips for you to consider following a dementia diagnosis.

1. Turn to the people you trust. One benefit of an effective estate plan is that it allows you to delegate important responsibilities. Specifically, it lets you choose people you trust to make certain decisions for you when you can no longer do so.  Two of the key legal documents that facilitate this are a durable power of attorney, and a health care surrogate designation. 

2. Think about how you want to address future health concerns. Many people mistakenly believe that estate plans only address what will happen after you pass away. Actually, an estate plan also lets you address future health concerns. You can do so by working with an attorney to include legal documents that:

  • Let you stipulate the type and extent of medical treatment you would want if illness or injury prevented you from expressing those wishes directly.
  • Let you name someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you can no longer do so.

3. Think about different ways to transfer your assets. Another misconception is that the only way to ensure your family is provided for after you die is through a Last Will and Testament. In reality, a comprehensive estate plan may also include at least one trust agreement designed to reach specific goals for your legacy. From planning for minor children to long-term care, we can create a trust agreement that best meets your planning goals.

Of course, these are just a few considerations we want you to consider right now. If you have any questions or concerns about making or amending your estate plan, simply contact our law firm to schedule a consultation.