As life expectancies extend, the elderly population faces an increasing risk of incapacities, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. These conditions significantly impact decision-making abilities, highlighting the importance of early estate planning.
Lifespans, Dementia, and Its Implications
The joy of a longer life comes with its challenges. A prolonged lifespan often increases the likelihood of developing cognitive impairments, including various forms of dementia.
These conditions can severely affect an elder’s ability to understand and make informed decisions regarding their estate, leading to legal complexities.
Legal Challenges Posed by Incapacity
The capacity to make decisions is a cornerstone of legal processes, especially in estate planning. To legally execute a will or trust, one must fully comprehend the nature of the documents and the implications of their decisions.
Incapacity can invalidate these crucial documents, leading to disputes and potential legal battles.
The Case for Early Estate Planning
Given these challenges, proactive estate planning becomes crucial. When cognitive abilities are unimpaired, the clarity and validity of estate plans are less likely to be contested. Here’s how to ensure a solid and dispute-free estate plan:
- Timely Creation of a Will and Trust: It’s advisable to draft these documents while in good mental health. This clarity of mind ensures your wishes are accurately reflected.
- Choosing Reliable Representatives: Appointing trustworthy individuals as executors or trustees can ensure that your estate is managed as per your wishes, even if you’re unable to oversee it yourself.
- Updating Estate Plans Regularly: Life changes can necessitate revisions in estate plans. Regular updates can reflect your current intentions and circumstances.
- Establishing Financial Power of Attorney: This legal tool allows you to nominate someone to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so.
- Creating Advance Healthcare Directives: These directives outline your preferences for medical care and decision-making, should you become incapable of making such decisions.
Integrating Professional Guidance
Professional advice is pivotal in estate planning. Legal experts ensure that your documents are compliant and reflective of your intentions. Additionally, maintaining medical records of your cognitive health can provide essential evidence of your decision-making capacity, safeguarding against future disputes.
Long-Term Care Implications
There is another major consideration that is an area of specialization for our firm. Many people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias ultimately reside in nursing facilities.
As you might imagine, these centers are expensive all over the country, and the costs are higher than average in the metropolitan New York area. An extended stay could erase the legacy that you have always intended to leave to your loved ones.
What about Medicare? Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the custodial care that nursing homes provide. The program will not cover extended in-home care either, so this is a considerable gap.
Medicaid will cover nursing home expenses, and Community Medicaid will pick up the tab for in-home care. Of course, these are need-based programs, so you have to develop the right financial profile to qualify.
We can show you how to position your assets with future Medicaid eligibility in mind so you can go forward with the knowledge that your legacy will be protected.
Let’s Get Started!
To schedule a consultation at our Manhattan, New York estate planning office, call us at 212-973-0100. If you would rather send us a message, fill out our contact form and we will get back in touch with you promptly.