Living Will

A living will is a document that expresses how a physically or mentally incapacitated person wishes to be treated in certain medical situations.

In a living will, the person states his or her wishes regarding artificial life support.  This document generally comes into play once a doctor decides that a person is at the end of life and unable to communicate his or her desires regarding life-sustaining treatment.

Advance Directives

Advance medical directives are legal documents that allow a person to document preferences regarding medical treatment and care.  This document allows a person with dementia to name an agent to make healthcare-related decisions on his or her behalf when he or she is incapable of doing so.  These decisions include choosing:

  • Doctors and other healthcare providers
  • Types of treatment

For a person in the late stage of dementia, the health care agent may also make end-of-life decisions, such as providing nutrition through a feeding tube or giving do-not-resuscitate (DNR) instructions to health care providers.

A Durable Power of Attorney is the legal document that allows a person with dementia to name an agent to make financial and legal decisions on his or her behalf when he or she is incapable of doing so.  These decisions include:

  • Choosing an assisted living or skilled nursing facility with a memory care unit
  • Applying for Medicaid, if applicable
  • Accessing bank or brokerage firms to handle finances
  • Hiring lawyers, accountants and private caretakers

When the time comes, these decisions can be difficult for families to make.  Help avoid disagreements and distress by having open conversations early on so everyone involved understands the plans.

The legal requirement for these documents varies from state to state.  Do not assume that your legal documents from another state are valid once you relocate.  Consult with an elder law attorney familiar with these issues.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

 

 

Before a person with dementia signs a legal document:

Talk with the person.

Find out if the person with dementia understands the document and consequences of signing it.  Make sure the person under the stands what is being explained and what he or she is being asked to do.

Ask for medical advice.

If you have concerns about the person’s ability understand, a doctor may be able to help determine the level of his or mental capacity.

Take inventory of existing legal documents.

Verify whether living wills, trust and powers of attorney were signed before the person was diagnosed.  He or she may not remember completing them.  Even if legal documents were completed in the past it is important to review them for necessary updates.

Do not delay.  Dementia can progress very slowly, but sometimes very quickly.  Failure to plan can lead to expensive and complex legal consequences.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

This is the first in a series of information on the legal issues associated with Dementia. 

While it’s Important for everyone to plan for the future, legal plans are especially important for a person diagnosed with dementia.  The sooner planning begins, the more likely it is that the person with dementia will be able to participate.

In many cases, time is of the essence.  If a person with dementia is able to understand the meaning and importance of a given legal document he or she likely has the legal capacity (the ability to understand the consequences of his or her actions) to sign the documents. The level of legal capacity required for a person to sign a particular document varies from one document to another.

It is very important to seek the services of an estate planning or elder law attorney as early on as possible.  Once dementia progresses, the client may no longer be able to understand and sign the documents.  I see this all too often in my law practice.

Legal Planning for persons with dementia includes:

    Planning for Long-Term Care and healthcare

  • ing arrangements for finances and property
  • Naming another person to make health decisions on behalf of the person with dementia
  • Executing a Will and/or Trust to make sure the person with dementia has control over who receive his or her property when he or she dies.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

Do You Know When it is Time to See A Lawyer? 

Often we turn to lawyers as a last resort after the contract has been signed, the spouse has walked out, or the parent has died.

The adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true with legal matters as it is with regular medical checkups.

Getting good legal advice is one of the greatest preventative measures you can take BEFORE you become ill or incapacitated.  Not only can you save money in the long run, but preventative legal advice can save you and your family from difficulties later on.

Make a Will and plan your estate before you become too ill to do so.

And if there are changes in your family status – marriage, divorce, the birth of children, now is the time to seek legal advice to update your existing plans.

Make a careful search for your lawyer and focus on who may be the best qualified to handle the issues in your case.  Board certification is one way to decide if a lawyer is right for you.  A Florida Bar Board Certified lawyer must have extensive experience, must pass a written examination in the specialty area, and be favorably evaluated as to ability and experience in that specialty by other lawyers.  And the certification must be renewed every 5 years to show that the attorney can meet the same requirements as for the initial certification.

Debra G. Simms has been practicing law since 1988 and is a Florida Bar Board Certified Attorney.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

CONSIDER CHARITABLE CHOICES IN YOUR ESTATE PLANNING

As part of your estate planning, you might want to consider making a gift to one or more of your favorite charities in your Will or Trust.  This is what is known as “Planned Giving”.

Depending on the type of gift you choose, you may potentially reap benefits from your philanthropy that have very practical and desirable outcomes, such as the following:

  • Ability to leave a legacy
  • Income tax benefits
  • A life income for you or your spouse
  • Reduce or eliminate capital gains taxes
  • Personal Satisfaction

Whatever your objective, an estate planning attorney can help you choose the right tool to provide the most benefits for you, your family, and your charity.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

Contact Us

Port Orange Office:
Prestige Executive Center
823 Dunlawton Ave. Unit C
Port Orange, FL 32129
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667
New Smyrna Beach Office:
629 N. Dixie HWY
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667

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