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Estate planning and issues related to dementia

Dementia can lead to many things for a person and their family.

For one, dementia can cause a person to eventually lose the ability to make important financial and medical decisions. When this situation arises: major questions can come up for a family regarding who gets to make these decisions and what decisions should be made. Without guidance and direction on these matters being put out in advance, these issues can give rise to a lot of anxiety, and even fighting, within a family. 

Having a well-designed estate plan in place can help with heading off such problems. Through estate planning devices like power of attorney documents and advanced directives, a person can set out directions on things such as medical decisions and who gets to make decisions for them in the event they become incapacitated. When a person who loses decision-making capacity through dementia has such devices in place, it can add a lot of clarity to a situation that otherwise could be full of uncertainties.

Another thing dementia can result in is high care costs. A recent study indicates that dementia can have much higher care costs associated with it than heart disease or cancer. Specifically, the study found that, among Medicare patients, the average costs for care (such as health care and long-term care) in the five years before death were significantly higher among dementia patients than they were among heart disease patients and cancer patients, both in terms of total costs and out-of-pocket costs.

The high costs connected to dementia-related care can leave a dementia sufferer and their family worried about what impacts these costs will have. Among the worries they may have is that cherished family assets could end up being lost to these costs.

Thus, asset protection might be something dementia sufferers and their families are very concerned about. Estate planning may be able to help with asset protection. There are various asset protection options estate planning methods, like trusts, may be able to provide dementia sufferers and their families.

As one can see from this discussion, estate planning may be able to help with some of the major issues dementia can raise. Attorneys can help individuals who are in the early stages of dementia or individuals who suspect they are at risk of developing a dementia-related condition understand what steps they can take within their estate plan to address possible dementia-related issues.

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