A parent’s dementia diagnosis may spark need for estate planning

Parents love having the ability to watch their children grow. Over the years, however, the tables often turn, and adult children watch their parents age and sometimes struggle with illness and mental decline. While facing this type of situation, you may have many emotions and want to help your parent as much as possible.

In addition to assuring that he or she has the right care for the stage of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia from which your parent may suffer, you may also want to consider encouraging the creation of an estate plan. If your parent passes without a plan in place or reaches a state of incapacitation, serious complications can arise.

Do not feel selfish

Some people may think that trying to get their parents to create estate plans may come across as selfish or as if they only have an interest in receiving property now that their parents’ states of health are declining. Feelings of selfishness do not have to come into play. Estate plans are important for a number of reasons, including ensuring that your parent has appointed someone to make vital financial and healthcare decisions for him or her.

If your parent recently received a diagnosis of dementia but still maintains the majority of his or her cognitive functions, now may be the perfect time to work on an estate plan. Having the testamentary capacity to create an estate plan is necessary in order for the court to consider the documents valid and to, hopefully, avoid contests over the documents from beneficiaries or other parties.

Testamentary capacity

When it comes to testamentary capacity, your parent will need to show that certain cognitive functions are still intact, including:

  • Knowing which individuals are next of kin
  • Understanding the size and value of the estate
  • Having the ability to make sound decisions regarding beneficiaries and property distribution

Though you may help your parent get started with his or her estate plan, you do not have to feel as if you have to act as a guide through the planning process. In fact, it may not be wise for you alone to assist in planning. Instead, you may want to help your parent find a California estate planning attorney who can ensure that all parties follow the legal steps necessary for creating a solid plan.