Legal Issues when someone has Dementia – Seek out an Elder Law Attorney

This week’s blog continues the discussion of Legal Issues when someone has Dementia.  The introductory installment (April 30, 2015) put forth the issue of “Who can speak for someone with dementia?”  The May 14, 2015 installment discussed the situation where the person with dementia has Advance Directives in place.  The May 21, 2015 installment discussed the legal issues in determining whether a dementia sufferer can choose to have new Advance Directives prepared.  The May 30, 2015 installment discussed options in preparing a Health Care Power of Attorney.  The June 4, 2015 installment discussed how to decide whether to prepare a Living Will.  The June 11, 2015 installment discussed some of the basic issues in preparing a General Power of Attorney.  The June 18, 2015 installment discussed the importance of making the General Power of Attorney “durable.”  The June 25, 2015 installment discussed the importance of NOT making the General Power of Attorney “springing.”  The July 2, 2015 installment discussed revoking prior Powers of Attorney.  The July 9, 2015 installment discussed Do Not Resuscitate orders.  The July 16, 2015 installment discussed the Right of Disposition designation.  The July 23, 2015 installment discussed the Will (or Last Will and Testament.)  The July 31, 2015 installment discussed beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, IRAs, annuities, etc.  The August 6, 2015 installment discussed whether to pre-plan a funeral.  The August 14, 2015 installment discussed choosing a final resting place.  The August 28, 2015 installment discussed pre-planning the funeral ceremony.  The September 3, 2015 installment discussed when and how to pay for the pre-planned funeral.  The September 10, 2015 installment discussed medical insurance choices.  The September 17,2015 installment discussed long term care insurance.  Today’s installment will discuss obtaining the services of an elder law attorney.

Today’s installment continues the discussion of issues to manage when someone finds out that he or she has a disease that causes dementia.  These issues should be managed before the dementia gets worse, before the disease takes away the person’s ability to make decisions.  Along with the issues previously discussed, someone who has dementia (or his or her family) should seek the help of an elder law attorney.

Someone who has a disease that causes dementia is very likely to need long term care in the future.  The costs of that long term care can use up all of the person’s life savings.  If the person has a spouse, the costs of care can use up the spouse’s savings as well.  An elder law attorney may be able to shelter a portion of that savings.

In addition, an experienced elder law attorney can help identify other resources or services that can help the person with dementia and his or her family.  These services may allow the person to stay in his or her home longer, for example.  Alternatively, certain services may help family members in understanding the disease and its symptoms, making life easier for both the person with dementia and the family.

An elder law attorney can help with the important decisions that this blog has discussed over the last several weeks.  The elder law attorney can be a guide through the labyrinth of uncertainty into which the dementia has thrust the person and family.

The sooner the person with dementia and his or her family start to work with an elder law attorney, the more good can come of it.  A delay is seeking out an elder law attorney takes options and opportunities off the table.

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