Use Estate Planning to Prepare for Cognitive Decline

Home » Blog » Use Estate Planning to Prepare for Cognitive Decline
May 3, 2023 •  The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC
Create estate planning documents with our office today to protect you and your loved ones in the event of cognitive decline or incapacity.
Robert W. Haley, managing lawyer
Robert W. Haley
Certified Elder Law Attorney® Robert W. Haley brings over 27 years of legal expertise and knowledge to his firm, which concentrates solely on the areas of elder law, estate planning (Last Will & Testaments, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Trusts, etc.,.) Asset Protection/Medicaid Planning and fiduciary services. For many years, Robert practiced in real estate law, and in general practice, but decided to narrow his focus to elder law and estate planning when he realized the tremendous need for proper planning to be filled in Southside Virginia.

“Data from sources like the U.S. Census Bureau shows in no uncertain terms that the U.S. population has grown older over the prior two decades.”

Since 2000, the national median age in the U.S. has increased by 3.4 years, with the largest single year gain of 0.3 years in 2021, when the median age reached 38.8 years. This may seem young compared to the life expectancies of older Americans. However, the median age in 1960 was significantly lower, at 29.5 years, according to the article “Don’t Let Cognitive Decline Derail Well-Laid Financial Plans” from Think Advisor.

An aging population brings many challenges to estate planning attorneys, who are mindful of the challenges of aging, both mental, physical and financial. Experienced estate planning attorneys are in the best position to help clients prepare for these challenges by taking concrete steps to protect themselves.

Individuals with cognitive decline become more vulnerable to potentially negative influences at the same time their network of trusted friends and family members begins to shrink. As people become older, they are often more isolated, making them increasingly susceptible to scams. The current scam-rich environment is yet another reason to use estate planning.

When a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, an estate plan must be put into place as soon as possible, as long as the person is still able express their wishes. A diagnosis can lead to profound distress. However, there is no time to delay.

While typically, the person may state they wish their spouse to be entrusted with everything, this has to be properly documented and is only part of the solution. This is especially the case if the couple is close in age. A secondary and even tertiary agent needs to be made part of the plan for incapacity.

The documents needed to protect the individual and the family are a will, financial power of attorney, durable power of attorney and health care documentation. In addition, for families with more sophisticated finances and legacy goals, trusts and other estate and tax planning strategies are needed.

A common challenge occurs when parents cannot entrust their children to be named as their primary or secondary agents. For example, suppose no immediate family members can be trusted to manage their affairs. In that case, it may be necessary to appoint a family friend or the child of a family friend known to be responsible and trustworthy. Read more in our article: Is It Necessary to have a Medical Power of Attorney?

The creation of power of attorney documents by an estate planning attorney is critical. This is because if no one is named, the court will need to step in and name a professional guardian. This person won’t know the person or their family dynamics and may not put their ward’s best interests first, even though they are legally bound to do so. There have been many reports of financial and emotional abuse by court-appointed guardians, so this is something to avoid if possible. The mission of Lynchburg Estate Planning Attorney Robert W. Haley is to offer more than representation, but a lasting relationship with his clients so that families can have peace of mind knowing that they will be protected in the event of cognitive decline due to dementia or Alzheimer’s. Book a free call today with our team to discuss how we can help protect you or a loved one during the aging process. Also, check out our podcast, Aging Intelligently Podcast, for ideas on how to slow cognitive decline.

Reference: Think Advisor (April 21, 2023) “Don’t Let Cognitive Decline Derail Well-Laid Financial Plans”

Book an Initial Call
Speak With Someone
Schedule an available time to speak with us. We look forward to meeting with you!
Book an Initial Call
Client Success Stories
Google Reviews
Danville Virginia Office

742 Main Street,
Danville, Virginia 24541

Bassett Virginia Office

1460 Fairystone Park Hwy,
Bassett, Virginia 24055

Lynchburg Virginia Office

810 Main Street, (3rd Floor of the Truist Building)
Lynchburg, Virginia 24504

Integrity Marketing Solutions - Estate Planning Marketing
Powered by
magnifiercrosschevron-down