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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Monday, March 25, 2013

Advance Planning Can Help Relieve the Worries of Alzheimer's Disease

Advance Planning Can Help Relieve the Worries of Alzheimer’s Disease

The “ostrich syndrome” is part of human nature; it’s unpleasant to observe that which frightens us.  However, pulling our heads from the sand and making preparations for frightening possibilities can provide significant emotional and psychological relief from fear.

When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, more Americans fear being unable to care for themselves and burdening others with their care than they fear the actual loss of memory.  This data comes from an October 2012 study by Home Instead Senior Care, in which 68 percent of 1,200 survey respondents ranked fear of incapacity higher than the fear of lost memories (32 percent).

Advance planning for incapacity is a legal process that can lessen the fear that you may become a burden to your loved ones later in life.

What is advance planning for incapacity?

Under the American legal system, competent adults can make their own legally binding arrangements for future health care and financial decisions.  Adults can also take steps to organize their finances to increase their likelihood of eligibility for federal aid programs in the event they become incapacitated due to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

The individual components of advance incapacity planning interconnect with one another, and most experts recommend seeking advice from a qualified estate planning or elder law attorney.

What are the steps of advance planning for incapacity?

Depending on your unique circumstances, planning for incapacity may include additional steps beyond those listed below.  This is one of the reasons experts recommend consulting a knowledgeable elder law lawyer with experience in your state.

  1. Medical Power of Attorney.  A medical power of attorney designates another person to make health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.  You should consider filing copies of your medical power of attorney with your doctors and hospitals, and give a copy to the person or persons whom you have designated as your agent.  If you are part of our LegalVault program, your healthcare providers can access to all your legal documents concerning medical care via The Dean Law Firm website.
  2.  Financial Power of Attorney.  Similar to a medical power of attorney, a financial power of attorney assigns another person the right to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacity.  The power of attorney can be temporary or permanent, effective immediately or only upon incapacity, depending on your wishes.  Consider filing copies of this form with all your financial institutions and give copies to the people you designate to act on your behalf.
  3. Directive to Physicians (or Living Will).  Your directive to physicians (or living will) describes your preferences regarding end of life care, resuscitation, and hospice care.  After you have written and signed the directive, make sure to file copies with your health care providers or provide access via our website using LegalVault.
  4. Plan in advance for Medicaid eligibility.  Long-term care payment assistance is among the most important Medicaid benefits.  To qualify for Medicaid, you must have limited assets.  To reduce the likelihood of ineligibility, you may be able to use certain legal procedures, like trusts, to distribute your assets in a way that they will not interfere with your eligibility.  The elder law attorney you consult with regarding Medicaid eligibility planning can also advise you on Medicaid estate recovery planning.




The Dean Law Firm, PLLC assists clients with Estate Planning, Advanced Estate Planning, Planning for Children, Probate/Estate Administration, Elder Law and Civil Appeals in Sugar Land, TX and throughout Houston in Fort Bend County and Harris County.



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