Disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia have become increasingly common among older adults. Dementia and related diseases can be extraordinarily difficult for everyone, including the families of the seniors who are affected. When your loved one suffers from dementia, it can be difficult to take care of financial and legal manners. If your loved one suffers from dementia, you might benefit from consulting with the caring professionals at Elder Care Direction so that you can understand the potential implications of making decisions for your loved one.
Signs of dementia and diagnoses of dementia-causing diseases
The legal determination of your loved one’s mental competence will depend on the legal standards that are in place in your state. In most cases, dementia that is minor or in its beginning stages will not be sufficient for a declaration of mental incapacity. If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related condition but is still mentally competent, it may be important for him or her to draft a durable power of attorney before he or she becomes incapacitated. This can allow your loved one to designate a trusted person to make important health care, financial, and legal decisions on his or her behalf at the time that he or she becomes incompetent. If your loved one is no longer competent, he or she will not be able to create a durable power of attorney. In that case, you might need to go through a complicated legal process to obtain legal guardianship.
Like a power of attorney, a will that is written after your loved one is no longer competent will not be considered to be valid. It is important for your loved one to write a will before he or she becomes incapacitated. Your loved one may also want to inventory all of his or her assets and debts list details of where important documents such as titles, deeds, insurance policies, and tax documents are located.
If your loved one is already incompetent but has a previously signed will, any changes or modifications that are made to it will likely be considered invalid.
The ability to write and execute wills is called a person’s testamentary capacity. If it is suspected that the person who signed the will was mentally incapacitated at the time, the will may be challenged. If a will is successfully challenged, the court will deem it to be invalid and act as if it doesn’t exist.
Testamentary capacity requires that people who write wills must be aware of the following at the time that the wills are signed:
- Value and extent of their property
- Next of kin
- Ability to make the disposition
- Ability to drive and to make other decisions
It is common for grown children to worry about their parents while they drive. They might also worry about their parents entering into contracts and completing financial transactions. If you are worried about these types of things, you might need to get an evaluation of your parents’ mental competence. For driving, this might be harder. Older adults who have dementia but who are able to pass the vision test are often allowed to maintain their driver’s licenses. This means that you might have to take steps as a family to try to enforce a decision not to let your elderly loved one drive.
Some states have programs in place to help the families of people who have dementia to make those determinations. Others may require that elderly drivers undergo driving tests. You should check with your state to figure out the rules where your loved one lives.
Assistance with the activities of daily living
It is important for you to research the potential costs of providing care for your loved one who has dementia. Public services and insurance may help. Before your parent needs daily assistance, it is important for you to have a durable power of attorney in place. You can find multiple resources from the Alzheimer’s Association.
It is important for your loved one to have an advance directive in place to state his or her end-of-life wishes. These may be included in his or her written will.
Contact Elder Care Direction
Elder Care Direction has a team of dedicated professionals who are focused on helping elderly people and their loved ones with end-of-life planning and related concerns. To learn more, contact us today to schedule a consultation.