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Dothan, AL Law Blog

Monday, September 7, 2020

Estate Planning for a Family Member with Dementia

Have you heard that World Alzheimer’s Day is September 21? It is an international campaign to raise Alzheimer’s and dementia awareness and challenge stigmas associated with these conditions. Every 3 seconds, someone in the world develops dementia. Dementia is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes which affect memory, thinking, behavior, and emotion. Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are the most common types of dementia, responsible for up to 90% of cases.

For someone with dementia, it can be important to act quickly to set up a legal plan. The sooner plans are put in place, the more likely that the person living with dementia will be able to significantly participate in the process.

Fundamentally, a person with dementia should have at least these four legal tools in place. First, a health care surrogate should be established. A healthcare surrogate can give a trusted friend or family member the power to make healthcare decisions on the person’s behalf in the event he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to communicate such decisions. Speaking of important health care documents, the second legal tool a person with dementia should consider putting in place may be a living will. A living will can outline the person’s wishes regarding end of life care should he or she be incapacitated in a terminal, end of life situation.

Third, a durable power of attorney for finances may be established to allow a trusted individual to take over financial decisions and control bank accounts. This trusted individual, referred to as the “agent” of the durable power of attorney, has the legal ability to conduct business on behalf of the “principal,” the person who established the durable power of attorney. The durability feature means that the power of attorney survives incapacitation of the principal.

Fourth, a mechanism for distributing assets should be established. This may be a will, it may be a trust, or it may be a combination of the two. Whatever is put in place should address who will receive which assets upon passing. 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, we can help you. Make an appointment today. 




Reginald A. Rhodes, JD, LL.M. has an office in Dothan, AL and serves clients nationwide.



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