Can a Person with Dementia Draft a Will?

Assisting a loved one, parent or person with dementia in planning for the future can be difficult, but it is necessary. Time is of the essence, and the more time that passes after a dementia diagnosis means there is less time for that person to participate in the planning process.Can a Person with Dementia Draft a Will?

Learn more about how a person with dementia can draft a will and make legal plans for the future, before it’s too late.

A Future with Dementia

There are currently more than 5 million people living with dementia in the United States. Unfortunately, and even more devastating, is that dementia not only affects those living with the disease, but also costs their caregivers, children and families more than $5,000 a year and 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care.

Although nothing will change the emotional and financial impact of the disease on your life, there are ways to plan for a future with dementia that may make your and your loved one’s lives less complicated. Learning how to draft a will and make estate and legal plans for the future will allow you and your parent to spend more time enjoying the moments that you have left together, without worrying about estate planning and legal affairs on top of the disease.

Continue reading to find more information about how a person with dementia can draft a will, in addition to using our dementia planning checklist to assist you in planning health and long-term care, and on making decisions on behalf of your parent with dementia.

Can a Person with Dementia Draft a Will?

No one knows when dementia will change or impact our lives, and many of us do not have our affairs in order when the disease is diagnosed. Fortunately, there may still be time to draft a will and make other estate and legal plans with loved ones and parents before they run out of time.

A person with dementia can draft a will, if certain criteria is met and if they are deemed to have legal capacity, or understand the meaning and importance of what is being signed. But, it is important to remember that standards for capacity vary from state to state.

Before a parent or person with the disease drafts a will or signs a legal document, however, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends to:

  • Ask for Medical Advice: A doctor can better determine the level of mental capacity of your loved one
  • Take Inventory of Existing Documents: Determine which estate and legal documents have been signed before your parent was diagnosed with dementia, and decide if updates need to be made
  • Talk with the Person with Dementia: Finally, discuss the document with your loved one and the consequences and implications of signing it

Dementia Planning Checklist

Although it can be difficult to discuss health and long-term care — and eventually guardianship, if a parent or person with dementia reaches a point when they realize they are unable to make informed or rational decisions — it is of the utmost importance to do so, to avoid a crisis. “No one likes to talk about end-of-life care,” says Kim Boyer, founder of Boyer Law Group:

“The majority of clients who come to us are dealing with a current crisis for which there’s been no preparation.”

Boyer’s dementia planning checklist could help you and your loved one with dementia consider the course of action and plan that is best for you and your family during this time:

1. Discuss Needs and Wants with Family

Does your loved one or parent with dementia want to live with family during this time, or want anything but that? Have you discussed advanced directives and healthcare needs and wants? What about finances and inheritance?

2. Prepare Finances

Does your parent have assets and liabilities? Have any legal documents already been executed and prepared? What about long-term care insurance?

3. Obtain Legal Representation

Does your loved one with dementia know about obtaining legal representation? Have you appointed a power of attorney for health care or finances? What about legal guardianship?

A dementia diagnosis for a parent is overwhelming, but drafting a will and preparing these legal documents early on in the disease can save you and your family precious time, before it has any more of an effect on their life.

Have you had experience planning for a future with dementia? Share any stories or suggestions with us in the comments below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Harry

    Along the lines of the above discussion, if you are going to become the caregiver for a family member be sure and have all legal documents that have been created reviewed by a lawyer. You do not want to end up being the caregiver to only find out later someone else has the right to make decisions even though they have not been involved in the care.

    • caitlinburm

      That is a great suggestion. Thank you for sharing that with us, Harry.

  • Vickie Nation

    I dont see how this would work/be legal. Maybe very early stages. My Mother has Dementia.She forgets what you told her 15 minutes earlier

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