Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and more can lead to dementia in elders. If your parent or loved one is suffering from a dementia-causing illness, there are a few steps that you should take in order to protect their rights and assets before signs of dementia begin to become.

Guardianship and Power of Attorney

During the early stages of dementia, your loved one should still be able to work with you to transfer power of attorney and guardianship. As long as dementia is minor or nonexistent, a person in the beginning stages of a dementia-causing illness will still be seen as mentally competent in the eyes of the law. In the event that your loved one’s dementia has taken its toll before you can create a power of attorney, you can still file for guardianship.

A Written Will

Your loved one should have a written will already, but if they do not by the time dementia becomes apparent, their estate can be at risk. It is important for anyone to draft a will as soon as possible. Wills created or changed after dementia has become prominent can be dismissed in a court of law. For a person with dementia to make changes to a will afterwards, they will need to have a guardian, or someone with power of attorney for them. If possible, try to take inventory of all assets, estates, insurance policies, deeds, bank accounts, and tax forms before dementia takes effect.
The mental ability to make a will is called “Testamentary Capacity.” Wills of people with dementia are often challenged because the testator of the will may have lacked the testamentary capacity to make proper decisions. Testamentary capacity requires the person in question to be aware of the value and extent of their estate, and their next of kin. They must also be able to demonstrate reasonable judgement in their decisions.

Daily Life with Dementia

When your family member begins to show signs of dementia, their daily life can become a lot more difficult; even for daily tasks. Everything from shopping to cooking can pose dangers of getting lost, injured, or worse. Driving can become especially treacherous for your loved one as dementia sets in. In New York, there are programs established that allow you and your family member’s physician to determine if they have the capacity to be on the road. If everyday tasks become too difficult for your loved one, consider options for additional care; such as a home aide or a nursing home.

For more than 40 years, our firm has been assisting people like you with long term care and estate planning needs. We bring you the knowledge and resources to protect you and your family. Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice by articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Call 718.477.7700 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with an estate planning attorney at Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC. We proudly serve Staten Island, Brooklyn and the other boroughs of New York City.