What should I do with my estate plan now that I’ve been diagnosed with early stage dementia?

As health care improves and people begin to live longer, the number of people who will eventually face a dementia diagnosis during their lifetime is increasing. Unless medical breakthroughs begin to better treat this condition, these numbers will only continue to grow over time. People suffering from dementia typically lose their memory, cognitive ability, and language skills. As a result, it is crucial for people receiving or concerned about a dementia diagnosis to update their estate plan while they still have legal capacity to do so.

5 Steps for Updating an Estate Plan After a Dementia Diagnosis

What should you do to update your estate plan after a diagnosis of dementia? We recommend that you take the following steps:

  1. Make sure that your durable power of attorney is up to date.
  2. Review the provisions of your advance health care directive to ensure they are current and reflect your wishes.
  3. Review and update your will to ensure that it reflects your current goals and needs and appoints someone who is available to serve as the personal representative of your estate.
  4. Review the beneficiary designations on your various assets. Typically, assets such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and certain types of bank accounts allow you to name a beneficiary to receive the asset when you die. This avoids the need for the asset to pass through the probate administration process if you are to die.
  5. Consider adding a living trust to your estate plan or updating your existing trust. Your trust can include specific provisions that address what should happen with your assets in the event you become incapacitated. You can include guidelines for your trustees that state your needs and wishes during any period of incapacity. The trustee will have authority to manage the assets in your trust without court involvement. You can also include a provision that dictates exactly how and when you should be deemed to be incapacitated.

Modifying an estate plan requires the guidance of an experienced attorney. To learn more, we encourage you to contact us today at (714) 459-5481.