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Estate Planning and Dementia: What You Should Consider

Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi May 8, 2023

Senior Couple Planning Their Estate with Financial AdvisorIndividuals who have cognitive impairment or dementia may face significant challenges when creating their will or estate plan. For example, in New York State, a testator is required to have the cognitive and mental capacity to execute or revoke a will. Once you notice early signs of dementia in someone you love, it’s important to discuss state planning and other sensitive end-of-life issues with them as soon as possible. 

At Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi, we have devoted our careers to advising and guiding clients in complex estate planning matters involving cognitive impairment. Our New York State estate planning attorneys are available to discuss your unique circumstances and educate you about how to discuss the subject of estate planning with your parents. We proudly serve clients in Tonawanda, Amherst, Wheatfield, and throughout Erie County and Niagara County, New York. 

Common Estate Planning Issues for People with Dementia 

Dementia is a health condition that is often characterized by impairment of memory, thinking ability, or loss of intellectual functioning. As a result, patients may experience difficulties in thinking, remembering, or making decisions. Unfortunately, it may also affect their ability to create an estate plan. Here are some common estate planning challenges for people with dementia: 

  • They may find it difficult to communicate or discuss their exact wishes. 

  • They may forget about some assets, safe deposit boxes, personal belongings, heirlooms, and other valuables. 

  • They may be unable to name a designated beneficiary. 

  • They may be unable to create a valid will without a sound mind. 

  • Memory impairment would make it difficult to organize documents. 

  • They can easily get confused or make poor judgments. 

  • They may be unable to choose their preferred medical treatments or procedures. 

  • They may forget to claim security deposits, dividends, and insurance benefits. 

  • They may be unable to understand key details or make informed decisions. 

In these situations, time is of the essence. Once you start noticing early signs of cognitive impairment, consider initiating an open and honest conversation with your parent about the subject of estate planning and other sensitive matters. This can be a great opportunity to enlighten them about the advantages of having an estate plan and preparing for life’s uncertainties. 

Tips for Speaking with a Parent about Estate Planning 

Many families tend to avoid discussing estate planning and death. However, parents need to communicate their true wishes to loved ones while they are still able to do so. Here are some tips for discussing the topic of estate planning with your parents: 

  • Begin the conversation with a reference point such as a family gathering, wedding, thanksgiving, anniversary, or burial ceremony. 

  • Gently let your parents know about the benefits of estate planning and getting their final affairs in order. 

  • Help them understand their available estate planning options and advance healthcare directives. 

  • Enquire about their wishes for medical treatments, healthcare procedures, and end-of-life decisions. 

  • Discuss crucial estate planning matters, including wills, living trusts, advance directives, beneficiary designations, business succession planning, powers of attorney, letter of intent, and burial/funeral arrangements. 

Estate planning is a delicate subject and discussing it can be uncomfortable. To make it easier, you can call on your siblings and close relative to join or participate in the discussion. A trusted attorney can also help you explore your options and simplify the discussion. 

Communicating Plans and Identifying Important Information 

One of your expected duties after having the estate planning discussion is to help your parent locate forgotten assets, savings, and personal belongings. At every stage of the process, be sure to allow them to communicate their exact wishes regarding estate planning. An estate planning lawyer can help you and your loved ones navigate this emotional time. 

Seek Trusted Legal Guidance for Your Family  

Learning that your parent has been diagnosed with dementia can be stressful and even overwhelming for you and your siblings. No one should have to go through this kind of situation alone. Thankfully, an individual is still considered to be of sound mind at the early stages of dementia and can most likely create their estate plan with the guidance of an attorney. 

At Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi, our attorneys are dedicated to offering comprehensive and detailed counsel to clients in estate planning-related matters. As your legal counsel, we can help discuss estate planning with your parents and let them know about their options. Estate planning is all about providing peace of mind for you and your loved ones, and we’re here to help you achieve that. 

Contact us at Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi today to schedule a simple consultation. Our dedicated lawyers can offer you the guidance you need to draw up an estate plan for your loved ones with dementia. We proudly serve clients in Tonawanda, Amherst, Wheatfield, and throughout Erie County and Niagara County, New York.