San Jose Elder Law — Dementia and the Importance of Durable Power of Attorney

The Alzheimer’s Association strongly advises beginning legal plans if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia is a general term that refers to a cluster of symptoms such as the loss of memory, problems with communicating, and loss of other intellectual abilities serious enough to disrupt everyday life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Once a person is diagnosed with early dementia it is important that a family member, domestic partner, or friend assist the person in making legal plans. Legal planning includes making plans for health care and long-term care coverage, making plans for finances and property, and naming another person to make decisions on behalf of the person with dementia – and the planning needs to take place before the dementia becomes too severe.

A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows a person with dementia (called the principal) to name another individual (called an attorney-in-fact or agent), to make financial and other decisions for the principal. The person appointed is oftentimes a trusted family member, domestic partner, or close friend.

There are several areas that can create costly problems if you do not have a proper Durable Power of Attorney in place designating an Agent to act on your behalf during any period of incapacity. Conflicts can arise with real estate property, retirement benefits, estate and asset protection, and healthcare decision-making. On average, guardianship proceedings take months and can be quite costly in that they involve court filing fees, attorney fees, physician’s fees and court reporter fees. A well-drafted Durable Power of Attorney will give your Agent the authority to act on your behalf and to protect your physical well being as well as the financial well being of you and your family.

As essential as Durable Power of Attorney is, it faces new—and continuing—obstacles. Disruptions in the financial services industry as well as recent scams and frauds make it imperative for individuals to consult with a law attorney that can aid in creating a plan that not only provides financial protection for their family, but also ensures planning for their future.

Of importance, an attorney can explain what makes a Durable Power of Attorney “elder law friendly”. Many documents in existence today do not meet the potential needs of elder clients. These should be replaced with “elder law friendly” documents. As an elder law attorney, Jim Ward can assist in navigating the many variables associated with a Durable Power of Attorney. For example, whom can you trust as an agent? What powers should be included? When does the document take effect? When is a Durable Power of Attorney valid?

Jim Ward is an experienced elder law attorney who has offices in San Jose and South Valley. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, proper legal planning is critical to avoiding financial hardship and emotional distress. Take the time to call Jim for a free initial consultation today.