Alzheimer’s Creates Urgency for End-of-Life Documents

Alzheimer’s Creates Urgency for End-of-Life Documents

A brother and sister came into our Oakland office, seeking our advice on what to do about their mother, who had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. They were most concerned about getting an Advance Healthcare Directive and Power of Attorney so they could make decisions for their mother once she was no longer able to do so. Unfortunately, there was some urgency in this matter.

The tragedy was that their mother was still very young—she was in her early 60s, and they had always counted on her to be the strong one, active and full of energy. Both children were very close to their mother, but they’d begun to notice that she had been increasingly forgetful and had trouble focusing. They had started noticing symptoms several years before, but chose to ignore them. They laughed at the little things, like the time they found her phone in the refrigerator, her constantly misplacing her keys, purse and household items. Her short-term memory was severely diminished, but there were moments of complete clarity, so they chose to forget.

The come-to-Jesus moment was inevitable

She was driving home one night from a concert and simply had no idea how to get home. Completely lost and frightened, she drove around for hours before finally nearly running down a policeman. She couldn’t remember her address, but he found it on her driver’s license and drove her home, and her son picked up her car the next day. This was the last time she drove. They could no longer live in denial. The sister made an appointment with a neurologist, who diagnosed their mother’s Alzheimer’s.

Legally able to sign end-of-life documents

They knew they needed to act quickly to prepare end-of-life documents for their mother while she was still legally able to sign them. In these cases, the individual must be capable of understanding and appreciating the extent and effect of the document, just as if he or she were signing a contract. The mother needs to understand her net worth, that she’s signing a Trust and making disposition of her property to her children.

The brother and sister needed to get a complete accounting of their mother’s assets so we could prepare a Living Trust. The mother’s home was paid for, she had several retirement accounts, life insurance, some valuable art and jewelry. She’d also bought some stocks, which had done very well. Fortunately, the mother had periods when she was lucid and clear-thinking, and she was able to help with the preparation of the Living Trust documents.

Included in California Document Preparers’ Living Trust is an Advance Healthcare Directive and Power of Attorney, so that once we completed and signed these documents, the brother and sister had everything they needed to be able to direct the care of their mother for the remainder of her life—however diminished that life might be, and that brought some comfort to our clients.

If someone in your family has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s important to prepare a Living Trust while he/she is still legally able. Contact California Document Preparers at one of our three Bay Area locations. We help you through every step of the process.