04/26/2018










Legal Issues to Consider When Caring for a Parent with Dementia

caregiver and elderly patient with dementiaYou have a parent suffering from dementia, and now you are left wondering what you can do to protect their health, happiness, and their finances. A person who has dementia relies heavily on their adult children, and they need someone who can make the critical financial and healthcare decisions on their behalf that are in their best interest. While your parent has their mental abilities still intact, now is the time to act. The sooner you take care of the legal issues and complete the necessary paperwork, the easier it will be when your loved one’s condition worsens.

Critical Documents to Complete After a Dementia Diagnosis in Plainview, NY

Once your parent is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, the next step is to complete the necessary paperwork. Once your loved one’s condition worsens, you will not be able to complete these tasks without going to court and waiting months for the system to work out these details.
Here are some documents that are essential so that you can care for your parent correctly.

Durable Power of Attorney

The durable power of attorney is a legal document that gives an adult child the authority to make financial decisions for their parent. This includes:

  • Writing checks to pay creditors and bills
  • Filing tax returns and depositing tax refund checks
  • Selling a home
  • Selling other assets for the benefit of their adult parent
  • Handling the investment of any assets

A general power of attorney is not as reliable as a durable power of attorney because the durable option remains in place even if the parent becomes incapacitated. A regular power of attorney would end the power given to you if your parent was to become incapacitated due to his or her illness.

When you have a properly drafted durable power of attorney, all financial institutions that your loved one currently uses will use the document, but you may need to also complete the financial company’s exclusive power of attorney form. Therefore, the faster you start the process, the better, because some firms may require these documents and take several weeks to process them.

Healthcare Proxy

A healthcare proxy or healthcare power of attorney gives you the ability to make medical decisions for your loved one. You can choose which doctors they see, which medical treatments they accept or refuse, and other healthcare decisions that they cannot make on their own.

It is essential that you discuss what your loved one’s wishes are for health and well-being while they are still lucid enough to make those decisions. That way when you exercise your power as the health care proxy, you know that you are following their wishes.

Living Will

A living will, or advanced health care directive takes the guesswork out of deciding what your loved one needs or wants regarding their health. Your parent can dictate what medical treatments they want or don’t want, especially near the end of their life.

They may also designate what level of life-saving measures they want to be taken in their living will.

Updating the Current Estate Plan

While you do all the paperwork, make sure that you also meet with an estate planning attorney to update your loved one’s current estate plan. A will dictates how assets are handled upon your parent’s death, and which beneficiaries receive those assets.

Sit down with an estate planning attorney and your loved one while they are still able to make these critical decisions. Ensure that everything is updated, new assets are added to the estate plan, and that everything is addressed – including anything that has changed since your loved one’s diagnosis.

Living Trust

If your parent has a significant estate, you may want to consider a living trust.

A living trust makes it easier to manage assets in your parent’s estate, including investment accounts or the family home. The trustee must follow instructions made in the trust, which limit anyone taking over for personal gain.

You will need to transfer all your parent’s assets into the trust, including investment accounts, homes, and other tangible assets that are currently in their name.

Another benefit to using a trust is that you will be able to bypass probate court. A living trust lets you avoid probate and assets are distributed directly to the beneficiaries of the trust if your parent were to die from their illness.

The Capacity to Make a Will

One issue that comes up with a parent who is diagnosed with dementia is their mental capacity to make and execute a will. Legally this is known as the testamentary capacity. Your parent’s will might be challenged if they sign the will and their dementia is too far progressed to justify it.

Therefore, it is vital that you meet with an attorney and discuss your options for updating your loved one’s estate plan. Some considerations your attorney will need to make include the extent of the property being added, beneficiaries of the estate, and if your loved one can make reasonable judgments when executing a will.

Assessing the Costs

Not only do you need to have financial documents and estate plans updated, but you also need to plan for how you will cover the costs of your parent’s daily living, including in-home care or putting them in a nursing home when their disease progresses too far. These costs can quickly add up, and cost thousands of dollars that you do not have. An estate planning attorney can help you plan for these expenses within the estate plan, and also through Medicare planning.

Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney

Once your parent is diagnosed with dementia, you need to meet with an estate planning attorney quickly. The sooner you act, the easier it will be to complete the necessary paperwork, but also to do so before your loved one’s condition makes them ineligible for signing a new will.

For your concerns, meet with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. We can help you explore your options for protecting your loved one and ensuring they receive the care they need.

Schedule a free case evaluation now at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.



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