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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

5 Legal Steps to Take When Facing Dementia

POSTED ON: February 13, 2018

Over 5.5 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2017. This included an estimated 5.3 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65. And Alzheimer’s disease is just one form of dementia.

It’s important to create a plan when you’re in the early stage of dementia. It will help make sure that you and your family will be prepared and it can help you feel empowered because you’re ensuring that your wishes will be met.

  1. Execute powers of attorney. A durable power of attorney lets you identify the person who would be responsible to manage your financial matters if you become incapacitated. A health care proxy (also known as a medical power of attorney) allows you to appoint a person to make health care decisions for you if you cannot do so yourself. These powers of attorney only come into play once you have become legally incapacitated; meaning you no longer have the ability to understand and appreciate the consequences of your actions and to make rational decisions.
  2. Create an advance directive. Also known as a living will, it works in conjunction with a health care proxy by expressing your wishes as to how your designated agent should proceed in certain specific circumstances, such as how and when you wish to receive medical treatment in the event of a terminal illness.
  3. Create or update your will. If you don’t have a will that designates how your assets will be distributed upon your death, you need to create one. If one exists, check it over for any necessary updates to beneficiaries or the addition of any assets acquired after the original will was made. You should also review any trusts you have.
  4. Create an estate plan. Asset preservation is usually critical for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. An estate planning attorney can help preserve assets for future long-term care.
  5. Develop long-term care strategies. Look into long-term care options that will be available to you like in-home help or residential homes where you can get the care you need. You may decide to start planning for MassHealth (Medicaid in MA), apply for MassHealth benefits, and investigate home options. We help people develop long-term care strategies so we can walk you through the process and help make it easier for you.

Once diagnosed, have a conversation with your family about your decisions for your care. Let them know where important documents are stored. As part of your legacy planning, we can help you capture and pass on your own story and wishes for your loved ones.

Do it sooner rather than later. Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases are progressive illnesses, so put these protections in place quickly for you and your loved ones.

Contact us at mkarr@maheritagelawcenter.com or 617.299.6976 to set up a meeting so we can prepare you and your family for the future and make sure that your wishes will be met.