Estate planning is hard for most people because it requires us to think of our own mortality. But there can be other complicating factors, too. For example, if you have a parent who has procrastinated in creating their estate plan, then you might worry about how to bring it up in conversation so that you can motivate them to protect their assets and their interests.
And yet, these matters can become even more complex when your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s. You might worry that they don’t have the capacity necessary to adequately create an estate plan, or that they’ll simply forego the process altogether, thereby leaving them and their estate susceptible.
How to assist a loved one with Alzheimer’s estate plan
We understand that this can be a stressful situation. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to try to make the process easier for everyone involved. This includes doing each of the following:
- Inventorying assets: Before a strong estate plan can be created, your loved has to understand the extent of their estate. You might be able to help them do this by diligently working through everything that they own. It’ll be helpful to revisit this list to ensure that you’re capturing everything.
- Talking through their healthcare wishes: Sadly, many Alzheimer’s sufferers deteriorate to the point that they’re unable to make decisions for themselves. If this happens, your loved one will want someone they trust to be in charge of their healthcare decisions. By having a conversation about what your loved one would want that to look like, you can help them lay the foundation for a healthcare directive.
- Helping them consider a power of attorney: If your loved one does end up incapacitated at some point, then they’ll also be unable to make financial decisions for themselves. A power of attorney can ensure that a trusted individual steps in to fill that decision-making role, but that’s a document that your loved one will have to create. If they don’t, then they could end up being the subject of guardianship proceedings later on, which are oftentimes highly contentious.
- Preparing for asset distribution: Your loved one probably has an idea of how they’d like their assets distributed once they pass away. You can help initiate those conversations so that they can better formulate a formal plan, which might include the utilization of not only a will, but also a number of trusts.
- Starting the conversation early: When an individual with Alzheimer’s creates an estate plan, much of the focus is on their mental capacity. After all, if they don’t understand the extent of their estate and the implications of their estate plan, then any legal documents that have been created may be deemed void. Therefore, the earlier you can talk to your loved one the better. Keep in mind, though, that an individual with Alzheimer’s can still create valid legal documents. It’s just that their mental state at the time of creation may be put under a microscope if the estate is later challenged.
Are you ready to help your loved one with their estate plan?
If so, then now is the time to start having conversations with them about the process. Before doing so, though, it’s a good idea to let other family members know what you’re doing so that you can head off any perceptions that you’re unduly influencing your loved one. After doing that and following the tips mentioned above, you’ll hopefully be able to rest easy knowing that your loved one’s affairs are properly in order and that they have the protection that they need.