Alzheimer's

Can Somebody with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Make a Will?

Yes, but there may be a point where this becomes impossible.

Families often face a difficult situation when they receive a Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis.  Often, the signs preceded the diagnosis.  Whether an individual is dealing with a suspicion or “official” diagnosis, there may still be an opportunity to create an estate plan.   In fact, there is a great need to do so.

Good News, Estate Planning is Possible

Everybody over the age of 18, even those with a disease affecting their brain, is presumed to be competent to create a will.   This means that they have “testamentary capacity”.  Even if somebody has been determined by a court to be incompetent, there may be times when the person may have lucid intervals when he knows the extent of his estate and who should receive the inheritance.

Nature of Dementia, Windows of Opportunity

Most of us who have been around suffers of dementia realize that it is not an all or nothing condition.  For example, the term “sundowners” unsplash-windowrefers to the worsening of dementia in the late afternoon or evening.  At those time, individuals may hallucinate, become agitated or paranoid.  See http://sundownerfacts.com/symptoms/  Strangely, for some of these people the conditions disappear or lessen the next morning.

Generally, dementia such as Alzheimer’s is progressive.  However, the rate that it progresses varies.  According to Alz.org.[i]

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease worsen over time, although the rate at which the disease progresses varies. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors.

From a planning perspective, it is best to draft and sign essential estate and asset planning documents early.  These may include:

  • Powers of Attorney

  • Wills

  • TrustA photo by Sonja Langford. unsplash.com/photos/eIkbSc3SDtI

  • Advanced Healthcare Directives (Living Wills)

  • HIPAA Releases

Concerns about Long Term Care

In addition, this is an ideal time to make plans for governmental programs that can help pay for care.  For example, Medicare does not pay for long-term care in a facility.  However, Medicaid can be an option to explore.  Also, veterans, their spouses and widows can be eligible for certain pensions such as the VA Wartime Pension also know as Aid and Attendance.  However, both Medicaid and certain VA benefits are needs based.  This means that those with too much income and or too much in net worth may not be eligible for these programs.  However, individuals can become eligible without losing their life savings.

In short, when a diagnosis occurs, it is a good idea to consult with an elder law attorney who has knowledge about the disease, the needs of the family and how to navigate through the Medicaid and VA eligibility requirements.  However, failure to take advantage of the opportunity to plan may result in the need of guardianship or other court administered processes.

[i] http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_stages_of_alzheimers.asp

Another Reason to Walk, Run and Ride

Need additional motivation to get back into shape?  How about fund raising?

My wife and I have been doing things to get back into shape.  This has included running, riding road bikes, swimming and a few other

Terri and I at the Collins County Texas Ride.

Terri and I at the Collins County Texas Ride.

activities.  Recently I stumbled upon an app called Charity Miles.  It helps raise money for various causes by partnering with sponsors who agree to contribute for volunteers’ fitness activities.

How does it work?

Just launch the app, choose a charity and either walk, run or bike. The selected charity then earns money for every mile covered. Walkers and runners earn up to 25¢ per mile; bikers earn up to 10¢ per mile.

Companies like Johnson & Johnson and Humana agree to provide up to 10 cents for every biking mile and 25 cents for every running or walking mile.

File Jun 14, 6 22 46 PMThis screenshot shows the miles of my activities.  I have chosen to dedicate my miles for Alzheimer’s Association.  Almost daily I help with families who are addressing issues caused by this disease.  As a nation we are facing a crisis that will easily overwhelm our health systems.

The app is easy to use and it posts the activities automatically.  You are given an option to Tweet or FaceBook post the activity.

Not that athletic?  Some people turn it on while shopping or mowing their lawn!  Every mile counts.

Want more information?  Go to http://www.charitymiles.org/

File Jun 14, 6 23 01 PM

 

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