As our loved ones age, the likelihood of developing dementia increases. This can lead to a loss of mental capacity, making it difficult for them to make financial and medical decisions.
And without proper planning, this can result in a costly and time-consuming court process known as a conservatorship.
We understand that these issues can be overwhelming and emotional for families. That’s why our team of experienced attorneys is dedicated to helping families navigate the legal complexities of dementia incapacity planning.
We aim to provide compassionate and effective legal solutions to ensure that our client’s loved ones are well taken care of, and their affairs are handled in the best possible way.
Do you have a loved one in need? Contact our attorneys at Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law in CA today.
If you’re worried about your loved one’s well-being due to dementia or other conditions that may cause incapacity, there are several legal tools available to help ensure their affairs are taken care of properly.
With the assistance of an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney, you can develop a plan that includes financial and medical powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, and more. These tools can help avoid issues like guardianship and conservatorship abuse and provide peace of mind knowing your loved one’s needs and wishes are properly addressed.
A financial power of attorney (a general durable power of attorney) is a legal document you sign that allows someone else (called your agent) to manage your finances if you become incapacitated and can no longer make those decisions yourself.
Not all financial powers of attorney are the same. It’s imperative that you work with an attorney who can ensure your power of attorney will provide great protection and flexibility so your agent has the powers necessary to make the best decisions for you in real time.
If a power of attorney is not comprehensive, it may greatly limit your agent’s ability to fully protect you in your time of need or take advantage of legal strategies that could benefit you financially.
If you permanently lose mental capacity before executing a valid and robust financial power of attorney, your family members cannot handle your finances for you without going through a court process known as a conservatorship.
Medical directives usually address three key wishes:
An advance healthcare directive (also called a healthcare power of attorney) is a legal document you sign that designates a healthcare proxy you trust to make medical decisions if you lack the mental capacity to make these decisions for yourself.
A living will declares your wishes for your end-of-life care and specifies whether you wish to be removed from artificial life support if your doctors determine you will never recover from your injury or illness. A HIPAA Authorization specifies who can speak with your doctors or the hospital and receive information about your condition if you cannot temporarily or permanently communicate.
Not all medical directives are the same. Your medical directives must provide great protection and flexibility so you can always receive the necessary care and life-sustaining treatment.
If you lose your mental capacity before executing valid and robust medical directives, your family members cannot handle your medical care for you without going through conservatorship. This will cause great frustration and additional costs, hassle, and delay that could have been avoided by executing valid medical directives.
As our loved ones age, they may require help managing their personal and financial affairs. They need to execute a robust estate plan while they have legal capacity so that someone they trust can make decisions for them when they can no longer do so themselves.
However, a conservatorship may be necessary for families with no legal documents in place, and their loved one no longer has legal capacity. A conservatorship is a court process where a judge appoints someone to care for an aging loved one who can no longer care for themselves or manage their finances, typically due to dementia.
The conservatorship process can take about four months and involves:
Estate planning is important but it can also be confusing. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney is recommended to navigate this complex process and ensure your loved one’s affairs are handled properly.
Long-term care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can be expensive. Medi-Cal is a benefit through California’s Medicaid program that can help pay for long-term care for those who meet certain eligibility criteria. However, qualifying can be challenging, and many people find themselves ineligible due to having too many assets.
This is where elder law attorneys and legal planning come into play. By working with an experienced elder law attorney, individuals can create a plan that meets their specific needs and ensures they are eligible for Medi-Cal if and when needed.
This may involve transferring assets into a trust or making gifts to family members. It is important to plan for long-term care and eligibility well in advance to ensure individuals have the resources to maintain their quality of life as they age.
If a loved one needs immediate assistance and you lack the legal authority to assist them, we encourage you to talk with us immediately. As your trusted Santa Barbara elder law attorney, we can help your family through this challenging time and process.
There is no reason to navigate these massive life changes alone. The sooner you can obtain a Conservatorship granting you the legal authority to handle your loved one’s affairs and care, the sooner you can move forward with your personal life and feel a sense of order again. Book a planning session today.
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My experience with Julianna was nothing but professional and caring. I found her extremely knowledgeable, helpful in providing expert advice about my situation, and compassionate. She's truly a super star attorney and I refer others to her on a regular basis.
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It depends on the person’s level of cognitive impairment. If the individual still has legal capacity, they may be able to create legal documents for incapacity planning. If they no longer have legal capacity, their family members may need to seek legal guardianship or conservatorship to manage their affairs.
Yes, it is possible to change an incapacity plan as needed. It is recommended that individuals review their plans regularly and make updates if there are changes to their health, family situation, or other relevant factors.
It is highly recommended that individuals seek the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney and elder law attorney to help with dementia incapacity planning. These professionals can provide guidance and expertise to ensure that legal documents are properly drafted and that the plan meets the individual’s needs and wishes.