My parent has dementia, how should we approach estate planning?

Dementia can cause serious cognitive issues that may get in the way of daily chores and tasks. It can also prevent a person from making the right decisions about their estate and other important issues, like financial authority and end-of-life care. If you’re a caregiver for a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s symptoms, the Alzheimer’s Association offers the following advice. 

A number of documents can make up a person’s estate plan. Wills, trust documents, advance health care directives, and powers of attorney are all legal methods of making decisions about you and your estate after you’re gone. If you’re not sure that your loved one understands what he or she is signing and what it accomplishes, you may need to seek out a doctor’s opinion to determine legal capacity. You should also secure professional legal counsel to make sure all documents are binding. 

You’ll also need to help your loved one compile the necessary documents to be reviewed by an attorney. Any existing estate planning documents should be looked over to determine whether they meet the person’s needs. You also bring a complete listing of a person’s assets, insurance policies, documents regarding retirement plans, a listing of caregivers and family members involved in the person’s day-to-day life, tax returns, and deeds for any property owned. 

Along with assets, you should also have a long-term care plan in place for your loved one. Long-term care in a nursing home or other type of medical facility may be necessary if home caregivers are no longer able to provide sufficient assistance for serious medical issues. Family members may also be awarded guardianship, which means they would be responsible for important decisions regarding health care and financial issues.