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The Importance of Estate Planning when Diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease

 Posted on February 13, 2014 in Estate Planning

Alzheimer's disease IMAGEAccording to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Currently, there are 5 million people who are 65 years or older suffering from the disease, and another 200,000 younger than 65 who are struggling with early-onset Alzheimer's. Those numbers will continue to rise as Americans continue to grow older. By 2025, the number of Americans who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's is predicted to reach over 7 million, and by 2050, that number will reach almost 14 million if no medical cures are found.

The National Institute on Aging, (NIA), recommends a series of steps that a person who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, or any other serious illness, should take in order to make sure that their wishes are carried out. The organization has broken down the estate planning one should do into two groups - documents outlining the health care wishes of the person and documents outlining the financial wishes.

Advance directives for health care are used when the time comes that the person is no longer capable of making those decisions themselves. A living will outline specifically what the end of life wishes are for that person, and what extent medical personnel should take to sustain life.

There should also be a durable power of attorney drawn up which will appoint someone to be in charge of making medical decisions regarding treatments, providers, hospice, and other decisions that may need to be made that the person suffering from Alzheimer's are able to make. A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order is also another document that should be drawn up.

Decisions about financial and estate planning also should be made while the person is still mentally cognizant and able to do so. A will that specifies how the person's estate and assets will be divided, as well as final arrangements upon death can be stated here.  Appointing a durable power of attorney for finances is also recommended. This person will be able to make the financial decisions and arrangements that may be needed.

Elder law planning should be done with a knowledgeable attorney. Contact an experienced Wheaton estate planning attorney to discuss what options you have for planning for your future.

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