Legal and Financial Planning for People with Alzheimer’s Disease

Many people engage in estate planning to ensure their legal and financial affairs are in order when they pass away. However, they fail to take the legal and financial planning steps necessary to protect themselves and their family in the event of an incapacitating illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease.  Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease results in declining mental capacity in addition to declining physical health. If a person does not take steps to update or create legal documents before a decline in mental capacity, a family member may be forced to petition the court to appoint someone to manage the person’s legal and financial affairs.

Michigan Elder Law Attorney Chris Berry is a member of the National Association of Attorneys for Alzheimer’s Planning

Any attorney can say they focus on estate planning or elder law, but if you have a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in Michigan, you will want to meet with an expert who knows about the disease and more importantly understands and can explain the steps necessary to protect your family from the devastating cost of long-term care.

Advance Planning After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be overwhelming. Many patients and family members go through some of the stages of grief as they accept the reality that there is no cure. However, advance planning is crucial. Engaging in legal and financial planning after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis as soon as possible allows the person to participate in decision making.

Consulting with a Michigan estate planning attorney can help ensure that the legal documents are drafted and executed that ensure your wishes are carried out even though there may come a time when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Furthermore, an estate planning attorney in Michigan can help your family ensure that they have the legal and financial documents in place that avoid the necessity of involving the court to take care of essential matters related to your personal care, health care, and financial matters.

Click Here to Download
“Guide to Alzheimer’s Care”

Legal and Financial Documents for Alzheimer’s Planning

Various legal and financial documents may be needed to safeguard your wishes and assist your family as they care for you during all stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Some documents you may want to discuss with a Michigan estate planning attorney include:

  • Last Will and Testament

A will is necessary to ensure that your wishes for your estate are carried out after your death. With a will, you choose your heirs and decide how property is divided between your heirs, including friends, charities, and distant relatives. Without a will, Michigan’s intestate laws make these choices for you. Furthermore, a will makes probate easier and quicker for your family. It can ensure that your family members have access to the funds they need quicker than if you do not have a will.

  • Power of Attorneys

You may want to consider a financial power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. A Durable General Power of Attorney allows someone you choose to manage your property and finances. It is vital that a power of attorney includes a “durable” clause that specifically states a power of attorney remains in full force and effect even if you become mentally incapacitated, as in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

A health care power of attorney should also include a “durable” clause to ensure that your agent has the authority to make decisions for you even though you are unable to do so because of mental incapacitation.

  • Living Will or Advanced Care Directive

A living will or advanced care directive dictates your instructions for end-of-life care and treatment.  For instance, if you do not want a feeding tube or respirator, you can make these desires known through a living will. You can also appoint an agent to enforce your decisions regarding life-sustaining procedures and treatment. In some cases, a person may appoint a close friend or family member as an agent who agrees to carry out your wishes. It can be difficult for family members to withhold treatment that prolongs life, even though they know their loved one’s wishes.

  • Living Trust Agreement

A living trust agreement can be used to hold title to certain property during your lifetime and distribute the property upon your death. You can choose to serve as trustee until you are unable to manage your affairs. The successor trustee assumes the management of the trust for your benefit until your death.  Upon your death, the trustee distributes the property directly to the beneficiaries you name for the trust. A living trust may help in Medicaid planning, and it can avoid probate.

  • Do Not Resuscitate Form

A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form states that you do not want medical professionals to perform CPR or other treatment when you stop breathing or when your heart stops.

Seeking Help from Health Care Professionals

As your family faces an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it can help to consult with various legal and health care professionals as you plan for the future. Health care providers, social workers, and counselors can help you prepare for the medical needs and emotional needs your loved one will face during the various stages of the disease. Some of the areas you may need assistance include:

  • Coordinating medical care
  • Making short-term and long-term care plans
  • Selecting personal care assistants
  • Discussing difficult and emotional topics
  • Addressing emotional concerns of the patient and family members
  • Aiding caregivers
  • Evaluating alternative living arrangements
  • Evaluate in-home care needs
  • Connecting with support groups and resources

Consulting a Michigan Estate Planning Lawyer for Alzheimer’s Planning

A Michigan estate planning attorney can help you with the legal matters related to Alzheimer’s disease planning. Ensuring that you have the legal documents in place to care for your loved one can help reduce stress and anxiety. Even if you did not take steps to create a legal and financial plan for a loved one during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, an elder law attorney can provide guidance and legal advice now as you seek to obtain legal and financial authority to take care of your loved one.

Click Here to Download
“Guide to Alzheimer’s Care”

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