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Planning for Cognitive Decline is Part of Estate Planning

March 13, 2024 • | Curran Estate & Elder Law, PLLC
Once your cognitive abilities begin to decline (which can start in your early 60s), your accounts could be at risk. We can help you protect them.

Estate planning attorneys work to protect clients by creating advance medical directives, appointing a power of attorney and sorting through trust agreements, explains an article from Kiplinger, “Is Your Estate Ready if You Experience Cognitive Decline?”

Most consider estate planning a tool for distributing assets after death. However, it serves many purposes during life, including planning for cognitive decline and incapacity.

As we age, our cognitive abilities may start to decline, which needs to be accounted for in investment portfolios. Many loved ones see this decline but are not comfortable speaking with family members about such a sensitive topic. Large financial institutions and skilled financial advisors have recognized this and created plans to prevent losses from poor decision-making. In addition to planning finances, meeting with an estate planning attorney and preparing for cognitive decline and incapacity is essential. Here are some of the topics to cover.

Appoint an Agent under a Financial and a Healthcare Power of Attorney. This person will be responsible for making legal, financial and positive healthcare decisions for you if you cannot. They need to be someone you trust implicitly.

Create a Living Will. While you are competent, it is important to outline the medical treatment you would not want to receive if you became permanently unconscious or if you are in an end-stage medical condition.  You specify those choices now and designate someone else to make those final decisions on your behalf if and when the time comes.

Discuss and Plan for Long-Term Care. What would your family need to do if you were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and required care and supervision around the clock? Discuss living arrangements and finances to pay for care as part of your estate plan.  The law firm of Curran Estate & Elder Law in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania,  is a life care planning law firm.  We have a care coordinator on staff who is there for the declining individual and their caretaking loved ones.

Create a plan for your estate. How will your wealth and assets be distributed after your death? Did you know that some or most of your assets can be protected and preserved for your heirs in the event you should need skilled nursing?  Planning in advance saves your family from spending your hard-earned money on skilled nursing, scrambling to figure out how you want your assets to be distributed, what bills need to be paid on your behalf to protect real estate property, and what your wishes are for a funeral or memorial service.

These conversations are not easy or enjoyable. However, they are crucial to protecting yourself and your family from the unexpected and the inevitable. Making a plan for yourself and being prepared is the most you can do, and it is also the only thing you can do. Talk with an experienced elder law attorney to put your estate plan in place sooner rather than later.

Reference: Kiplinger (Feb. 7, 2024) “Is Your Estate Ready if You Experience Cognitive Decline?”

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