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Nolan Elder Law and Estate Planning, LLC Blog

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Protecting Your Loved One With Dementia

What legal documents can help to protect my relative with dementia?

It is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that over 47 million people across the United States suffer from dementia, with nearly 10 million people being diagnosed each year.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia nationwide.  As your grandparents and parents age, the risk of dementia increases drastically.  If your loved one is already showing signs of dementia or is at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, it is important that you take the time to fill out some important paperwork that could offer much needed legal protection for your elderly loved one.  

Durable Power of Attorney 

A durable power of attorney provides you with the authority to make financial decisions for your loved one, including signing checks, paying bills, and managing property.  This type of power of attorney will only take effect when your relative becomes incapacitated to the point that he or she cannot make decisions for him or herself.
Living Will 

A living will allows your loved one to state what medical treatment he or she wants, or does not want, in an end of life scenario.  A living will is also commonly referred to as an advance directive for healthcare.  Without this document in place, you may be left unsure as to what medical decisions you should make in a difficult situation.

Health Care Proxy 

A health care proxy is like a durable power of attorney, but instead of for financial decisions, it grants you power to make medical decisions when your loved one becomes unable.  You will have the power to make choices about surgery, treatment, doctors, and related health matters for your loved one with dementia.


If your loved one does not yet have a will in place, now is the time to make one.  You must be of sound mind to execute a will.  Waiting too long could render your loved one with dementia unable to make an enforceable will.  

Living Trust 

If your relative has considerable assets, it may be best to create a living trust.  Your loved one’s assets, including property and retirement accounts, can be transferred into the trust.  These assets can be passed to the named individuals without the need for probate.  

It is important that you act now to execute these vital legal documents while your elderly loved one still has the mental capacity to do so.  Consult with an elder law attorney for assistance today.

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