Woman with Alzheimer's holding loved one's hands.

How Does an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis Affect Estate Planning?

If you or a loved one have recently received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you are likely feeling many emotions. You may be feeling some fear of the future. Taking the time to engage in legal planning at the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s can empower individuals to know that their wishes for the future are known. Your family will be more prepared to help you face the future when they understand your wishes and goals. Once an estate plan is in place, you can go on to enjoy time spent with your loved ones. 

Planning for Long-Term Medical Care with an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Each person who receives an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is unique. The effects of Alzheimer’s progresses at a different rate for every individual. Whatever stage of Alzheimer’s you’re in, you will likely need to receive ongoing medical care. Medical costs have skyrocketed in recent years. The goal of estate planning is to help you make sure that you’ll receive quality medical care while not using up all of your hard-earned assets. Looking into long-term care insurance, and planning for Massachusetts Medicaid program, MassHealth can be extremely beneficial. 

Naming a Massachusetts Health Care Proxy

A health care proxy is a legal document, which appoints someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. A Health Care Proxy addresses whether or not you would like life-saving procedures such as CPR. It also addresses whether or not you’d like to receive life-sustaining medical treatments such as the use of a respirator and tube feeding. You can also state whether or not you’d like to receive blood transfusions, pain medications, receive routine tests, or consent to surgery. 

The agent that you appoint will only be able to make healthcare decisions when you are unable to do so yourself. Up until that point, you will be able to make your own health care decisions. In fact, your doctor will need to declare in writing that you lack the ability to make your own decisions before your appointed health care proxy begins making decisions for you. In order to appoint a health care proxy, you must be of sound mind. The sooner you select your proxy, the better prepared you will be for the future. 

Creating a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances 

A health care proxy only addresses specific health care decisions. You will need to create a durable power of attorney in order to appoint an agent to make decisions on your behalf regarding finances. If you’ve recently received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and you’re still of sound mind, you can create a durable power of attorney. If you are in the hospital receiving care and you haven’t appointed a durable power of attorney, problems could arise. For example, if you need to pay a bill related to your medical treatment and you have not appointed a durable power of attorney, you may encounter some issues. Durable power attorney documents usually appoint someone else to make decisions about your income, assets, investments, and finances. Taking the time to appoint a power of attorney will help you rest easy knowing that a trusted friend or family member will handle your financial decisions when you no longer can. 

The Lawyers at Surprenant & Beneski, PC Can Help

At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, our founding attorney moved his practice into the area of estate planning after experiencing his mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Our legal team understands the unique challenges that Alzheimer’s presents. If you need assistance planning for the future, contact our Southern Massachusetts law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.