Incapacity planning is of utmost importance, especially for individuals diagnosed with conditions like Alzheimer’s that are likely to lead to progressive cognitive decline. This planning ensures that the patient’s wishes regarding their health care and finances are followed even when they are no longer able to make these decisions themselves.
One of the first steps in incapacity planning is the creation of a durable power of attorney (POA). This document allows the individual, while they still have mental capacity, to appoint a trusted person to manage their financial affairs if they become unable to do so. Without a POA, families may need to go through a potentially time-consuming and costly court process to have a guardian or conservator appointed.
Equally important is a healthcare power of attorney or healthcare proxy, which appoints a person to make medical decisions on the patient’s behalf. This should be supplemented with a living will, a document that outlines the individual’s wishes for end-of-life care.
For an Alzheimer’s patient, another critical aspect to consider is the long-term care planning. . Alzheimer’s disease requires long-term, intensive care that can be quite costly. Long-term care insurance or a dedicated savings plan can be part of this strategy.
Planning should also include the management of the patient’s estate after their death. A properly structured will or trust ensures that the individual’s assets are distributed according to their wishes.
Lastly, it’s critical to have these conversations as early as possible in the disease progression. Early planning allows the person with Alzheimer’s to participate in the discussions and decisions about their future, ensuring their wishes are clearly understood and followed.
Professional guidance from an attorney specializing in elder law can be beneficial in navigating the complexities of incapacity planning for Alzheimer’s patients. They can help set up appropriate legal documents and ensure all aspects of care and estate management are addressed, offering peace of mind to both the individual and their loved ones.