The Importance of Documentation When Family Members Have Dementia

When people are young and healthy, they don’t often take the time to plan for their possible incapacity by executing legal documents including a power of attorney and living will. As a recent article explains, however, these documents should be completed sooner rather than later.

These documents are especially important given the fact that a person with dementia may not begin to show obvious signs until he or she is no longer legally capable of executing these documents. If this occurs, the court will have the responsibility of naming the person who will make medical and financial decisions for the incapacitated person. The court will not intuitively know who the incapacitated person would have wanted to fulfill this role. This can often lead to disputes within families.

Disability documents that everyone should execute include a financial power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, a living will, and a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) authorization. A person may never need to use the powers granted in these documents but, by having them in place, there are the best chances that the decision will be made as he would have wanted in the event of his incapacity.