Elder Law Update: Legal Issues Affecting People With Alzheimer's Disease

According to the Alzheimer's Association statistics, in 2014, an estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's disease. One in nine people age 65 and older (11 percent) has Alzheimer's disease, and of those with Alzheimer's disease, the vast majority (82 percent) are age 75 or older.  These startling statistics mean that there are millions of Americans who are in danger of not having the mental capacity to sign legal documents.  

Because a large portion of our client base consists of people who are age 65 and older, we see a lot of families affected by this horrible disease.  When doing planning for a client with Alzheimer's Disease, we have to take into consideration the client's mental capacity to understand the documents being signed.  Remember that it is the client with the disease who must sign the estate planning documents; the person caring for the client may not sign the legal document on behalf of the client.  

The two Powers of Attorney (POA)  for financial and health care matters are some the most important documents that we recommend to a person with Alzheimer's Disease.  This is because people with the disease have a diminished capacity to make sound financial and health decisions for themselves.  Without a POA in place, a guardianship may be necessary, which is a costly probate court procedure that should be avoided.  It is for these reasons why we suggest that the financial and health care POA be executed as soon as one receives the Alzheimer's Disease diagnosis.