Alzheimer’s disease may spread it’s roots slowly, while other threats to the mind, like a tumor, can act fast. If you have a parent or a loved one who is at risk for a health concern that affects the brain, estate planning should be your number one priority.
Navigating an estate planning process can be very difficult when the testator is not of a sound mind. Here’s how to overcome this hurdle.
Durable powers of attorney
If you are noticing signs of dementia in a parent or loved one, you may be able to plan ahead in case symptoms worsen. One way to do this is to help your loved one establish durable powers of attorney. This allows the testator to select a beneficiary to make certain decisions in case the testator becomes incapacitated.
The powers of attorney may be granted rights to oversee the testator’s finances or to make healthcare decisions or both. The testator can grant as much or as little flexibility as he or she likes.
The person who is granted the power of attorney will not be able to make changes to the testator’s will. However, these rights could protect your loved one if a health concern affecting their brain prevents them from making decisions as they normally would.
Applying for guardianship of your loved one is a way to generally extend all of your loved one’s legal rights to you. However, guardianship of an incapacitated adult may differ from individual to individual depending on the person’s condition.
To get an understanding of the incapacitated person’s condition and which powers the guardian should have, a court evaluator will be appointed to investigate the situation.
It’s a good idea to apply for guardianship if you notice that your loved one needs help to do one of the following:
- Care for themselves — Meals and daily hygiene
- Manage their property — Cleaning and other necessary upkeep
- Financial affairs — Managing debts, bills, expenses, income, etc.
Elder laws are in place to help older adults when they need it and protect this vulnerable population from harm. If your loved one is showing signs of depleting mental health, it’s best to seek medical attention and estate planning help as soon as possible.
Working to address these issues quickly will improve the legitimacy of your actions, making it easier to work toward potential solutions.