What You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s and Capacity

Among the many challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia is trying to get a sense of where they are in the progression of their disease and what that means. Caregivers know that there can be good days and bad days. This poses a challenge for assessing how best to interact with them as well as what level of oversight they need. It also poses a legal challenge: the issue of capacity. 

“Legal capacity” refers specifically to the ability to sign a legal document. The law requires anyone who executes a document to have the capacity to understand the meaning of the document and the consequences of signing it. 

How is legal capacity assessed?

Legal capacity isn’t a one-and-done, black-and-white matter. It is possible for someone to have the capacity to sign one document but not another, depending on how complicated the matter at hand is. A few categories of people are qualified to determine whether or not a person has the legal capacity:

  • Lawyers
  • Judges
  • Physicians
  • Psychologists

At Elder Advisors Law, we can help Alzheimer’s patients and their families determine whether or not they still have legal capacity.

What does this mean for me?

The matter of legal capacity makes it crucial for those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, or even just suspect that they may be noticing signs of these issues, to make a legal plan as early as possible. This planning should include updating existing planning documents if you have any, and making arrangements for the future regarding your finances, property, and medical care. It is also wise to choose someone you trust (through a durable power of attorney) to handle your decisions on your behalf once you no longer have capacity to handle things yourself.

When there has been a diagnosis of Altzheimer’s or dementia it is very important that you do not delay in having your estate planning reviewed as soon as possible.  There may be things that should be updated and/or changed and it is best to make those changes before issues of capacity come into question.

Who can help?

If you and your loved ones need help navigating these matters, the Elder Advisors Law team is here to help. Our attorneys (and soon our entire staff) will be Certified Dementia Practitioners specifically trained to address the needs of someone diagnosed with Altzheimer’s or dementia.

No matter where you are in your journey, we can help you plan for what is to come or make a plan that will help you deal with what is already happening. We love helping people protect their families’ futures and the assets that they have worked throughout their lifetimes to acquire. If you have any questions or if you are ready to sit down to talk with a member of our team, we encourage you to contact us today. You may also be interested in attending one of our workshops. We can’t wait to work with you.

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Elder Advisors Law

As Leaders in Estate Planning and Elder Law, we are passionate about helping families protect their hard-earned assets from the government, nursing homes, lawsuits or other predators.

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