As Washington, DC residents age, they and their families might become increasingly concerned with the possibility of contracting Alzheimer's disease. Plenty of information is available regarding the effects of the condition on patients once it presents, but since it progresses at different rates in different people, there is no way to pinpoint when an individual's symptoms will leave him or her permanently incapacitated. Therefore, the sooner that you or an elderly family member engages in estate planning, the better.
An important component of executing any estate planning documents is the legal capacity to understand what is being signed. This is why witnesses are often present when the documents are executed. If there is any question as to whether the person executing the documents is of sound mind at that time, they may subsequently be declared invalid.
Fortunately, it is not necessary to be able to take care of day-to-day affairs in order to prove capacity. So long as a Washington, DC resident with Alzheimer's disease is of sound mind at the time of the signing, the documents may be valid. Everyone should have the opportunity to dispose of his or her property as he or she sees fit.
Further, other considerations need to be discussed and decided as soon as possible. For instance, giving a trusted person or persons power of attorney over the financial and healthcare decisions that need to be made when the effects of the disease render you or a family member incapacitated is essential. This could include selecting someone as a guardian. Taking these actions will spare family members from having to obtain the needed authority to act by spending time and money going to court.
While an Alzheimer's patient still has the presence of mind to conduct estate planning, it may also be a good idea to look into long-term care options. There is enough trepidation associated with Alzheimer's disease for everyone involved. All of these estate-planning efforts could give everyone some peace of mind as the days, weeks and months lead to more pronounced and debilitating symptoms.