Finding out from your doctor that you have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is never happy news. You may naturally feel scared and uncertain about the future, both for yourself and your loved ones.
You may not be able to control everything that will happen to you in the coming years. Fortunately, you can still have a say over your future medical care and make sure your financial situation will be well taken care of — through comprehensive estate planning.
You might be like many people in Rochester who have yet to do estate planning. Or maybe you have a will and trust in place already. Either way, what you might not have is an advanced directive, power of attorney or health care proxy.
An advanced directive is a legal document in which you explain the extent of medical intervention you would want in various scenarios in case you are incapacitated and unable to speak to your doctors yourself. Dementia can make it impossible to understand what is happening to you or communicate clearly. In that situation, your advanced directive can speak for you.
Healthcare proxy and power of attorney
Meanwhile, you can designate a health care proxy to enforce the terms of your advanced directive. You can choose any adult you trust to serve as your proxy, but most people choose a close family member or friend.
Similarly, a power of attorney designates someone to act on your behalf if you become unable to handle your financial affairs. You can choose one or two individuals to be your agents, and the scope of what they handle can be as narrow or broad as you wish. Many people in the early stages of dementia take comfort knowing that their estate will be handled correctly by another person.
These tools are excellent examples of how your estate plan can help you during your lifetime as well as after you are gone.