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Life care planning for Alzheimer's patients

Learning that a loved one has Alzheimer's disease is devastating. One of the most important things besides getting health care for your loved one that you can do once the diagnosis is made is to ensure that your loved one has the proper estate planning documents made. These estate planning documents are vital to ensure that loved ones have a say in their final days and the distribution of their assets after they are gone.

Ideally, estate planning will be completed during the early stage of Alzheimer's because the person must have the mental capacity to make decisions in accordance with the law. Documents covering the person's estate, such as a will, the person's health care choices, like a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care, and documents for finances, such as a durable power of attorney for finance, are necessary.

The will sets up the basis for handling the person's estate. This must be made in accordance with Texas law to ensure that it will be enforceable after the person passes on. This can be done in conjunction with a living trust or other estate planning tools.

A living will is a document that can give instructions for end-of-life care. This can include organ donation, donating the body to science for Alzheimer's research or other research programs and artificial life support. This is often used in conjunction with a durable power of attorney for health care, which gives a loved one the power to make decisions about your health care.

The durable power of attorney for finances is exactly what it sounds like. It gives someone the ability to pay your bills and handle other financial matters on your behalf.

It is vital that anyone who is facing an Alzheimer's diagnosis to get things in order as soon as possible. Understanding the possible solutions can help you decide how to handle your estate.

Source: National Institute on Aging, "Legal and Financial Planning for People with Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet" Dec. 23, 2014

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