If you have a family member or close friend who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, you may think that it’s too late to go through the estate planning process or draft a will. However, this isn’t necessarily true. Before you start the planning process to draft legal documents, learn what a Chicago will attorney can — and cannot — do for your family.
An Attorney Can Draft A Will for Alzheimer’s Sufferers
If you’ve ever watched a television drama or movie, you know that someone needs to be ‘of sound mind’ to sign a legal document. However, this can be a little misleading, especially when dealing with Alzheimer’s patients. Many Alzheimer’s patients have periods of time when they’re lucid and during these times can be found competent to sign a will. He or she will need to meet the following requirements:
- He or she knows who his or her spouse or children are.
- He or she understands that he or she is signing a will.
- He or she understands what type of property he or she owns.
- He or she is able to determine where the property should go after his or her death.
What If There’s A Legal Guardianship In Place?
If someone has a legal guardianship in place, it is possible to still sign legal documents. However, the individual needs to meet all the above criteria. If it can’t be met, then their attorney and all the other parties will have to meet at another time.
Many Alzheimer’s patients suffer from Sundowner’s Syndrome. This happens in the later part of the day and can lead to extra confusion, memory loss, agitation, and even anger. For this reason, it’s a good idea to meet with an attorney early in the day instead of in the afternoon or early evening. Look for an attorney who has experience in dealing with Alzheimer’s patients because they will understand that you may need an early appointment.
What If The Person Is Physically Unable To Sign The Document?
In some cases, the person may be physically unable to sign the document. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the document isn’t legal. As long as the individual understands what is going on, they can simply make an X or even direct someone else to sign for them. The most important thing here is the intent — not the physical ability.
What If An Attorney Determines That The Individual Is Unfit To Sign?
Attorneys are concerned with following the law and if an attorney determines that your loved one isn’t fit to sign, you won’t be able to have a will created. This is why it’s so important to contact an attorney before symptoms become too severe.
If you have a parent or family member who’s showing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, one of the best things you can do is to get them to visit with an attorney as quickly as possible. Coming up with a plan for your parent or loved one is one of the kindest things you can do for them.
To learn more about us or to find your own Chicago will attorney, please call us today at (312) 201-0990.
While browsing the New York Times yesterday, I came upon the article entitled, “Avoiding Probate Can Pose Risks of Its Own.” On the heels of President Obama’s new tax laws, the Times reporter addresses the planning techniques people can use to avoid probate.
But, as the Times points out, without the proper knowledge people can get a false sense of security from wills and trusts. This is because non-probated items, which are not distributed through these documents, (retirement accounts, joint bank accounts, life insurance…) can cause issues of their own. Forgetting to coordinate your estate plan with these other accounts can throw off all your intentions.
SOME ISSUES INCLUDE:
- Joint Bank Accounts: Even if you have distributed your estate in your will, if during your life you put a caregiver or loved one on a joint bank account, they will receive the money in the account upon your death – not who you listed in your will.
- Expenses: Did you address who is responsible for paying the various expenses that will arise such as estate taxes and the funeral bill? (Is there enough money in the estate?)
- Real Estate: Similar to joint bank accounts, if there is another name on the deed when you pass, that person will inherit the property, not the heirs.
- Life Insurance/Retirement Accounts: Make sure the beneficiary on your forms matches your will.
These are just some of the issues that could cause complications with your estate plan. To ensure your estate is distributed properly and your wishes are followed, hire an experienced Chicago probate attorney to draft and help execute your documents.
***To view the complete New York Times article, click here.
Jacobs, Deborah. “Avoiding Probate Can Pose Risks of Its Own” New York Times, Wealth Section, February 9, 2011.