Planning your will can be a stressful and emotional endeavor. For those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, the task of writing and finalizing a will can be complicated. Between memory loss, failing cognitive capabilities, and difficulty with speaking, dementia can be devastatingly difficult to deal with. However, when trying to form a document that stipulates who receives your possessions, dementia can drastically affect your ability to create a will that dictates your true wishes.
Dementia impacts millions of Americans each year, half of whom are living past the age of 85. Diseases like early onset dementia, however, are becoming more common across America as well, affecting individuals who thought they had years before they would need to stipulate a will. If you or a family member is dealing with dementia and the task of creating a will, you still have options.
How Does a Sound Mind Work with a Will?
Dementia does add complexity to any estate plan. However, it is possible for a dementia patient who is not fully impaired by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to sign a will legitimately if they are in sound mind. Though sometimes this right mind can be difficult to prove, individuals in the early stages of dementia can bring in witnesses when signing a will to confirm they were conscious of their actions. If you believe your loved one may be in the early stages of mental decline, suggesting they discuss their estate plans with an attorney can help alleviate any potential issues.
How Do I Protect My Assets and Will If I Have Dementia?
Regardless of whether you have a completed will while suffering from dementia, you will want to set a durable power of attorney. This document gives you the option to pick another individual who would take control of any assets or finances should you be unable to manage them.
The person given this power is known as an attorney-in-fact-authority and is typically a trusted family member or friend, though they could also be a lawyer or third party if needed. This agreement can also establish the agent’s ability to act on behalf of the impaired party. Because a previous divorce can change who is in control of an estate when someone becomes unable to make their own decision, it’s best to see an attorney after any big life changes.
Adding a financial durable power of attorney assigned during dementia or Alzheimer’s can be a tremendous assistance to your family, as your agent will have full access to your checking account to take care of bills, the power to sell and manage assets, and responsibility over any financial decisions that need to be made.
What Are Other Important Documents and Titles My Will Needs To Dictate If I Have Dementia?
While your will dictates how your assets and properties will be divided, it should also include important care requests on how you want to be treated in your end-of-life care, as well as any demands for what to do with your remains.
For end-of-life care wishes, you’ll create health care directive documents like a living will, which cover details like life support, feeding tubes, resuscitation, and other quality of life decisions. It is best if you can appoint a family member or friend to oversee these decisions as they happen and enforce your choices. While most people choose their adult children for this role, you should choose the person you trust most to enforce your wishes.
Also, even if it’s a simple will, if you are diagnosed with dementia, the sooner you can designate how your assets will be handled and who will be your beneficiaries, the better.
If you have your will in order but not your assets, it can be helpful to move your assets into a revocable living trust, where a beneficiary can avoid having to go to probate court while attempting to wrap up your affairs. Also, a living trust requires a successor trustee who receives ownership of the trust upon your passing, meaning that once the trust is set up, you don’t have to worry about arranging your assets for bestowment while dealing with your illness.
Q: Can a Dementia Patient Write a Will?
A: If a person with dementia is of sound mind and they have the appropriate awareness of their surroundings, then they are legally allowed to write a will. Writing a will under these circumstances follows the testamentary capacity legal threshold.
Q: Can I Change My Will Even If I’m Suffering From Dementia?
A: If the individual has the mental capacity and is sound of mind, a person suffering from dementia is still permitted to change their will. This can be more difficult to get legal approval for after a dementia diagnosis has been received, but it’s still possible. Talk with one of our attorneys if you have concerns regarding changing your will.
Q: For a Will To Be Valid, What Are the Three Requirements Needed?
A: To have a valid will, you will need to go through three steps. First, the will must exist as a written document. Next, this document must be signed by the testator. Finally, this signing must be witnessed by at least two other people.
Q: Can a Will Be Challenged If the Testamentary Has Dementia?
A: It is possible to contest a will if there is considerable suspicion that the deceased was not in sound mind or lacked the mental capacity needed to complete the will. To combat a contest of the will and for the will to be valid, you will have to legally establish that the deceased was in mental capacity and sound mind.
Speak with a St. Charles Estate Attorney
Establishing your wishes early is the easiest way to protect your wishes. Regardless of your age or health, beginning the process of an estate place is an important step. Stange Law Firm has decades of experience in estate law and can protect your assets at every stage. If you are suffering from dementia and need legal assistance getting your will and affairs in order, St. Charles estate law attorney is standing by to assist you and your needs. Contact us today for a consultation.