Getting Your Affairs in Order Before Alzheimer’s Takes its Toll
Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia, eventually eliminate your capacity for comprehension and sound
decision-making. If your estate planning documents are not in order by the time Alzheimer’s or
dementia take control, the court is likely to appoint a guardian, making it unlikely that all of your
wishes will be properly carried out.
During the early stages of these brain diseases, you still possess the capacity to get your affairs in order,
and this is something you should take care of as soon as the diagnosis is given, before the progression
of these unfortunate illnesses robs you of the life and abilities you once had.
While you still have the ability to see to your affairs and plan for the inevitable, it is important to make
sure that a handful of documents are up-to-date.
Review your will, make sure everything is as you want it, and ensure that all I’s are dotted, all T’s are
crossed, all signatures are in place, and 2-3 copies have been distributed for safekeeping. If your will is
not solid, it is doubtful you will be able to make changes once the Alzheimer’s or dementia has taken
over, and if you do, your will could easily be the subject of a contest if it can be proven that your were
not of sound mind when the final will was prepared. Also, make sure you are positive as to your choice
Letter of Instruction
This document is an extension of your will. It includes instructions on where to find the will, final
wishes including funeral and burial plans, financial and insurance information, directions on canceling
accounts and memberships, etc. This document should contain passwords, account numbers, etc, Do
your family a favor and leave them this informative letter. Tell them what they need to know and
anything you want them to know to prevent much aggravation later on.
Power of Attorney
Make sure this document is in order and you have chosen a trustworthy person to handle your finances
and major decisions. Choosing the wrong person could lead to disaster. Furthermore, the absence of
this document will lead to decisions being left in the hands of a court-appointed guardian. They’ll
attempt to do what they think is in your best interest, but it still might not be exactly what you would
Avoid having your wishes ignored by preparing a healthcare directive that outlines your preferences
such as a DNR order, medical procedures, etc. so that doctors will have no choice but to ensure you
receive only the treatment you want and are not unduly subjected to procedures against your will,
contrary to your religion or values, or subjected to prolonged suffering with no hope of recovery.
Among other things, this document provides instructions on the management of your assets, should you
Special Needs Trust
If you are the caregiver for an incapacitated spouse or have a child or adult child with special needs, the
special needs trust prepares for their care should you become incapacitated yourself or die. It sets forth
provisions for all care - at home, in a nursing facility, etc. In many cases, this document is written to
preclude the ownership of any assets for the person with special needs in order to ensure their
eligibility for several types of needed assistance as well.
Make sure all your documents are in order, and as Alzheimer’s or dementia progress, you can ease your
burden, and your family’s burden, with the peace of mind of knowing your estate and final wishes are
taken care of.
Experienced estate planning attorneys Redlands CA of the Elder and Disability Law Firm offers estate
planning and business planning resources to residents of Redlands CA. To learn more about these free
resources, please visit www.san-bernardino-elder-law.com/ today.