When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, it is important you take the crucial steps to protect their financial and medical treatment matters.It is important to take care of this well before your loved one is unable to make these types of decisions on their own.
Be sure to have the proper documentation of your loved one’s financial and medical treatment matters so both of you are on the same page. Doing this in advance can be reassuring for you and your loved one.
Copperleaf Senior Living wants to ensure you are able to see your loved one’s wishes threw once they become unable to themselves. Using these four legal documents can help and be useful:
Power of Attorney
Also known as a POA, empowers one person to make decisions on another’s behalf. There are two different aspects when appointing a power of attorney. One, is a financial POA which allows you to manage your loved one’s finances; such as investments, income, and real estate. The Second is a medical POA, which allows you to make medical decisions including treatment.
A loved one may choose to appoint two different people for financial POA and medical POA or the same person can be appointed for both duties. A POA can become affective at the time of signing the legal document or when your loved one is no longer of “sound mind.”
Process for deeming a loved one incompetent and no longer able to make their own decisions varies by state. In some states, a POA can be activated with the signature of two physicians but, in others the signature of a physician and psychologist in clinical social worker is required.
The person with dementia should also appoint a successor agent for power of attorney if the primary appointed agent is unable to act or carry out the duties as POA.
A living will can allow a loved one suffering from dementia to express their final wishes and end of life care to their agent. Having this conversation can be very difficult. When discussing and preparing a living will, you will talk about medical interventions, such as feeding tubes to prolong life, which your loved one will or not will not approve of.
During the discussion, it is also necessary to talk about whether they approve of doctor’s using CPR or a defibrillator to restart their heart. Sometimes, a separate legal document known as a “DNR” (do not resuscitate) maybe signed if your loved one chooses.
Also known as a last will and testament. A standard will allows someone to transfer property, such as stating who will carry out the instructions of the will and who the beneficiaries will be. If there is a prior living will in place, go through it thoroughly to ensure everything is correct and updated.
Having a valid will for your loved one prepared early is important to making legal processes after they pass go more smoothly. A valid will may take time through probate court, but a valid will with no inconsistencies makes for an easier legal process.
A living trust is a separate legal entity your loved one manages to hold their assets. This legal document takes more time and is more expensive to prepare. This document avoids having to go to probate court where assets are rapidly distributed in the valid will.
Preparing these legal plans in advance allows a loved one to express their wishes and be included in the decisions before the early stages of dementia start.By setting up these documents early it eliminates difficult guesswork for the family and allows for time to work through the legal document processes.
It is important to know state laws and legal documents may differ by state. Be sure to research what laws apply to you personally for your loved one based on your state.