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Estate Planning for Victims of Alzheimer's Disease

Posted on in Estate Planning

Alzheimer's disease, estate planning, Illinois Estate Planning LawyerAccording to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's disease is number six cause of death in this country. However, in the list of the top 10 causes of death, Alzheimer's disease is the only cause which shows no signs of being prevented or cured. The disease's progression cannot even be slowed.

In order to bring awareness to this disease, November has been designated as National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month. There are currently 5.3 million Americans who have been diagnosed with the disease, and those numbers continue to increase. Projections are that in 10 years, the number of people who are 65 years or older will spike by 40 percent—to 7.1 million.

For those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, what type of estate planning should be in place?

As difficult as it may seem, the sooner the person who has been diagnosed puts these plans into place, the better. Typically, in the early stages of the disease, a person is still legally competent to make these important decisions. However, the longer a person waits, the more incapacitated he or she may become and will most likely no longer have the ability to make these decisions. Sadly, that is the reality of this disease.

One of the first documents that should be drawn up is a durable power of attorney. The designated power of attorney will be in charge of handling all of the person's financial affairs when the time comes that they are no longer able to do so. The document should clearly state which financial dealings the power of attorney shall have access to, including whether or not he or she can sell or purchase any property and whether or not he or she can make financial gifts on the person's behalf.

There should also be a durable power of attorney for health care decisions. This person would be allowed to make medical decisions once the Alzheimer's patient is unable to do. However, it is also important that this person understands the Alzheimer's patient's wishes. Other documents to have drawn up, which will legally cover those issues, include a living will, mental health treatment declaration, and a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) and practitioner's orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST).

A diagnosis of Alzheimer's can be devastating and trying to plan for the unknown future may feel overwhelming. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, please contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney to ensure that your future wishes are carried out.

Sources:

http://www.alz.org/facts/

http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075500450HArt.+II&ActID=2113&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=300000&SeqEnd=1900000

https://www.illinois.gov/aging/AboutUs/Documents/poa_healthcare.pdf

http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/health-care-regulation/nursing-homes/advance-directives

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