Mature couple with laptop

“Family members are already on emotional overload—adding a financial and legal decision aspect to what they’re already going through is enormous,” said Carol Steinberg, president of Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, a national nonprofit focused on the care and needs of people with the disease. “Therefore, the more decisions made earlier on and with the input of the loved one, the easier it is.”

With most diseases, either the disease is cured or it is not. With Alzheimer’s and dementia, however, there is an actual change in the “person” affected and the disease can become destructive, personally and financially.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are, more broadly, simply not “diseases” in the classic sense. They require a special sort of planning for both yourself and your loved ones.

The idea of planning ahead for the possibility of Alzheimer’s and dementia is an important one. In fact, CNBC recently explored the importance of early planning in an article titled Create financial and legal plans to manage Alzheimer’s.”

Because the changes wrought by these diseases occurs in degrees, by the time the problem is known it is already too late to do anything about it, legally if not financially. Mental competency is one of those core requirements to creating a legally sound plan. When it is a close call, any plan made (even with trusted counsel) can just fall apart. For example, what if a family controversy develops over who manages the estate?

Just as the best time to plant a tree is yesterday, the same holds true for making proper estate planning arrangements. You (or your elderly loved ones) will never have more mental capacity than you do today.

The very real threat of Alzheimer’s and dementia provides an all-too-common and all-too-real reason to consider what may come while you still can.

Reference: CNBC (October 7, 2013) Create financial and legal plans to manage Alzheimer’s

For more information on elder law and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.