Dementia Awareness: Why Durable Powers of Attorney, Trusts and Estate Planning are Important

June is Dementia Awareness Month, which provides everyone with an opportunity to learn more about this terrible condition make plans for your future if you or one of your loved ones is diagnosed with Dementia.

Dementia is a general term that describes a group of symptoms, such as loss of memory, judgment, language, complex motor skills, and other intellectual functions, caused by the permanent damage or death of the brain's nerve cells. Several diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, can cause dementia.

Consequently, when considering your future, it is not only important to have a Will or Trust to confirm how you want your possessions distributed following your death, but it is also important to have legal documents in place for management of your possessions during your lifetime should you lose your mental capacity to make decisions through dementia or other conditions that cause permanent brain damage. Durable Power of Attorneys for Financial Matters and for Health Care Decisions (called a Patient Advocate Designation) are legal documents that serve such a purpose. A Durable Power of Attorney allows a person to appointment another individual, usually a spouse, domestic partner, trusted family member or friend, to make decisions when a person loses his or her mental capacity to make decisions. The appointment should be made carefully and after a thorough discussion with the individual appointed about the duties and responsibilities that must be followed when the time occurs.

In addition, a Trust (sometime called a Living Trust) is an important legal document to consider because it not only specifies how a person’s property is to be distributed after death but also provides a way for a person to give written instructions for how property is to be managed upon disability.   A Trust allows a person to appoint an individual as a “successor trustee” to take over for the person who created the trust (the grantor and initial trustee) when he or she loses their mental capacity to make decisions. The successor trustee is then responsible for carefully managing the asset of the Trust and providing for the needs of the grantor and initial trustee. A trust also avoids probate and can give detailed instructions for the needs and care of minor children over long periods of time. Note that in many instances, a joint trust for a husband and wife can be drafted for these same purposes.

If you would like to discuss how a Power of Attorney, Trust, Will or other Estate Planning tools can be tailored to fit your needs, please contact Bill Ager at: bill@agerlawoffice.com or (734) 649-0784.

About Bill

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Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Bill Ager graduated from the University of Michigan and then served in the U.S. Army. He graduated from the Defense Language Institute and worked at the Army’s Freedom of Information Center in Washington… Read More

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