Hearing that a loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia is never easy, and it often comes with many questions and concerns. Understandably, legal matters are bound to be the last thing on your mind after receiving this diagnosis. However, planning your loved one’s estate with help from an empathetic Miami probate attorney is a priority.
The Importance of Planning Ahead
Dementia is a broad diagnosis for a severe decline in one’s mental ability, that eventually disrupts his or her daily life. Alzheimer’s is one of its most common forms, and the disease affects the brain causing memory loss and other serious symptoms. One of the most concerning aspects of these diseases is that there is no way to know how quickly they will progress. The sufferer could take years to reach an incapacitated state, or serious symptoms could arise quickly. For this reason, time is of the essence when it comes to estate planning.
The most important function an estate plan serves is making one’s instructions for healthcare, end of life care, and asset management and distribution clear. By planning early, the sufferer can avoid not having a say in his or her own life and afterlife decisions. It also takes weight off your shoulders, as decisions will be clearly outlined.
How to Make a Plan
Ideally, your loved one would already have an estate plan in place at the time of the diagnosis, which will merely need to be revisited for any necessary updates. However, we understand that this is often not the case, especially since early-onset Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed at a younger age. If there is not already a final will and testament drafted, the first step is to do so with the assistance of an experienced Miami probate attorney. Before meeting with your lawyer, compile all necessary paperwork, which includes:
- List of all assets, including any deeds to real estate
- Health and life insurance policies
- Recent income tax returns
- Copies of any current estate planning documents
Your chosen attorney will then guide your loved one through communicating essential decisions related to health care, treatment, and his or her estate. One key aspect will be designating another person, whether that is you or another loved one, to make decisions on his or her behalf when doing so themselves is not possible. All of these wishes will be detailed in several estate planning documents, which will vary depending on your unique situation, but may include:
- Durable power of attorney, which designated someone who can make legal decisions while the ward (your loved one) is still alive and receiving treatment
- Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (and if applicable, a DNR as well)
- Living will detailing wishes for care
- Living trust detailing wishes for financial matters and asset management
- Last will and testament, detailing wishes for estate management after death
If your loved one has recently been given a dementia diagnosis, the time to begin planning his or her estate is now. At Graham Legal, we understand that you are under a great deal of stress, and promise to offer guidance and compassion every step of the way. Together, we can ensure that your family member’s wishes are properly documented and honored. Most importantly, you can leave the paperwork to us, so that you can enjoy more time with your loved one.
Ready to get started? Schedule a free consultation today to learn more about how a Miami probate attorney at Graham Legal can help you through this trying time.