You notice Mom is experiencing memory problems or confusion or has actually been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She does not have a will, a financial power of attorney, or any advance directive for medical decisions. Is it too late? Not necessarily.
In order to effectively sign a will, power of attorney or advance directive, one must have the legal capacity to do so. Generally, this means that the person understands the nature and effect of the document they are signing. For example, to be legally competent to execute a will, a person must have an understanding of what property they own, the identity of the persons to who they would logically leave their property and understand they are leaving the property to the persons named in the will.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive disease. Although a person’s memory may be fading and they may be confused from time-to-time, they may nevertheless early in the disease be competent to sign important documents. However, as time passes and the disease progresses, there comes a point where that competence is permanently lost.
It is important to address these issues with your attorney promptly after the diagnosis is received or you notice Mom is becoming impaired. At that time, family members should also make sure they understand the location of other financial records including bank statements, retirement account statements, life insurance policies, etc. They also should be familiar with the location of pin numbers, passwords, etc.
For more information on elder law issues, please contact Jack Ruesch at Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP today at 712-309-3738.