Planning With Dementia: Important Legal Documents

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 Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

 

 

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