If a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it is very important for you and your family to plan for the future, especially the legal aspect of it. The sooner you start, the more you will be able to have your loved one participate in the decision making before his or her symptoms worsen. It also gives you time to work through the complex legal and financial issues that are involved in long-term care. Your legal planning should include:
-Making plans for health care and long-term care
-Plans for finances and property
-Naming another person to make decisions on behalf of your loved one
Legal capacity means the ability to understand and appreciate the consequences of one’s actions and to make rational decisions. Planning ahead allows your loved one to be able to understand the meaning and importance of a given legal document. He or she will be more likely to have the legal capacity to execute a document. Requirements of legal capacity can vary from one document to another. Speaking to a lawyer can help determine what level of legal capacity is required for a person to sign a certain document. Before your loved one signs a legal document:
Talk With Him or Her: Find out if your loved one understands the legal document and the consequences of signing it. Make sure he or she knows what is being explained and asked to do.
Ask for Medical Advice: If you have any concerns about your loved one’s ability to understand, ask for medical advice. A doctor may be able to assist in determining the level of his or her mental ability.
Take inventory of existing legal documents: Make sure to verify whether living wills, trusts and powers of attorney were signed before your loved one was diagnosed. Your loved one might not remember having completed them. Even if legal documents were completed in the past, it is important to review them with another person for any corrections or updates.
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