Can a Person With Dementia Draft a Will?

Last Updated: January 23, 2019

Assisting a parent or senior loved one in planning for the future with dementia can be difficult, but it is necessary. Time is of the essence and the more time that passes after a dementia diagnosis means there is less time for that person to participate in the planning process. Can a Person With Dementia Draft a Will?

Learn more about how a person who has dementia can draft a will and make legal plans for the future before it’s too late.

A Future With Dementia

There are currently more than five million people living with dementia in the United States. Unfortunately, and even more devastating, is that dementia not only affects those living with the disease but also costs their caregivers, children and families more than $5,000 a year and 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care.

Although nothing will change the emotional and financial impact of the disease, there are ways to plan for a future with dementia that may make you and your loved one’s lives less complicated. Learning how to draft a will and make estate and legal plans for the future will allow you and your parent to spend more time enjoying the moments that you have left together, without worrying about estate planning and legal affairs on top of the disease.

Continue reading to find more information about how someone with dementia can draft a will, in addition to using our dementia planning checklist to assist you in planning health and long-term care, and on making decisions on behalf of your parent with dementia.

Can a Person With Dementia Draft a Will?

No one knows when dementia will change or impact our lives and many of us do not have our affairs in order when the disease is diagnosed. Fortunately, there may still be time to draft a will and make other estate and legal plans with loved ones and parents before time runs out.

A person who has dementia can draft a will, if certain criteria are met and if they are deemed to have legal capacity or understand the importance and meaning of what is being signed. But, it is important to remember that standards for capacity vary from state to state.

Before a parent or senior loved one with the disease drafts a will or signs a legal document, however, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends to:

  • Ask for medical advice. A doctor can better determine the level of mental capacity of your loved one
  • Take inventory of existing documents. Determine which estate and legal documents have been signed before your parent was diagnosed with dementia, and decide if updates need to be made
  • Talk with your senior loved one. Finally, discuss the document with your loved one and the consequences and implications of signing it

Dementia Planning Checklist

Although it can be difficult to discuss health and long-term care — and eventually guardianship, if a parent or person with dementia reaches a point when they are unable to make informed decisions — it is of the utmost importance to do so, to avoid a crisis. “No one likes to talk about end-of-life care,” says Kim Boyer, founder of Boyer Law Group:

“The majority of clients who come to us are dealing with a current crisis for which there’s been no preparation.”

Boyer’s dementia planning checklist could help you and your loved one with dementia consider the course of action and plan that is best for you and your family during this time:

1. Discuss needs and wants with family.

Does your parent or senior loved one want to live with family during this time, or want anything but that? Have you discussed advanced directives and healthcare needs and wants? What about finances and inheritance?

2. Make financial preparations.

Does your parent have assets and liabilities? Have any legal documents already been executed and prepared? What about long-term care insurance?

3. Obtain legal representation.

Does your loved one with dementia know about obtaining legal representation? Have you appointed a power of attorney for health care or finances? What about legal guardianship?

A dementia diagnosis is overwhelming, but drafting a will and preparing these legal documents early on in the disease can save you and your family precious time before it has any more of an effect on life.

Have you had experience legal planning for a family member with dementia? We’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.

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