November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. It is also a month for giving thanks and connecting with family. At EPLO, we want to take this opportunity to highlight this devastating disease, recognize the caregivers who face the daily realities of the condition, and discuss the critical legal steps that every affected family should take.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Everyone with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s.” Additional facts from www.alz.org include:
- An estimated 5.3 million Americans (2015) of all ages have Alzheimer’s, and that number is only expected to grow
- Every 67 seconds in the U.S. someone develops the disease
- It’s the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that currently cannot be prevented, cured or slowed
Sad news but true, and you and your loves ones are among those who could be afflicted. Turning a deaf ear won’t make it go away and could result in massive strain both personally and financially. Estate planning is critical to preserving financial stability in these situations. You might think that given what we know about Alzheimer’s and dementia, the aging population would be proactive in securing an estate plan. However, our experience has been that often times it is a diagnosis of the disease (or a similar condition) that triggers people to finally take estate planning seriously if they do not have a plan or if their plan is outdated.
How Estate Planning helps
Receiving a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s throws a person into a state of disbelief and emotional chaos; the same holds true of their family. They face many challenges such as medical treatment, quality of life issues, and how they can afford extended care when needed without destroying the financial legacy they accumulated for their loved ones. When you work with an estate planning firm you should expect services that include:
- Specialized planning techniques to protect assets, including trusts and various gifting strategies
- Planning that positions your assets as favorably as possible under the MassHealth/Medicaid regulations
- Assistance with applications for Medicaid/MassHealth and other programs, and an ongoing relationship that maintains and safeguards Medicaid eligibility
- A multi-disciplinary approach that facilitates connections with other professionals and organizations to ensure that all your needs are being met
- Peace of mind for you and your loved ones
Timing is Important
If you even suspect that you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, scheduling an appointment with an estate planning attorney immediately is important – since you need to have the requisite level of mental capacity to understand the planning process, approve the plan, and sign legal documents. In a situation where a person is no longer able to sign documents, there are still effective options, but they must be explored quickly.
Even if you do not suspect Alzheimer’s, with the sobering statistics and statement by the Alzheimer’s Association that “Everyone with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s,” why wait? Contact an estate planning/ elder law attorney today.