More than five million Americans suffer from dementia, and that number is projected to increase to more than seven million by 2025. The likelihood that you will get dementia doubles every five years over the age of 65 and dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80, according to alzheimers.org. Dementia is the name for many types of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease. You can’t make a legally valid will, administer a power of attorney, or execute any other legal document unless you are “of sound mind” – dementia and estate planning require serious consideration.
Once dementia reaches the point where someone can no longer understand their assets, a legal documents’ purpose, or remember the names and relationships of family members, that person can no longer create or modify an Estate Plan. If you are concerned about your own cognitive ability, or the neurological health of someone close to you such as a spouse or a parent, you should consult an attorney. We see most wills contested on 4 common grounds, in particular, if someone was not of sound mind and did not have the mental capacity to execute a will.
There are legal documents you can create with your estate and will attorney that give someone authority if you’re ever incapacitated.
Power of Attorney
The law defines a power of attorney as a document that appoints an agent for either property or for healthcare. In Illinois, we have the Power of Attorney Act and it allows for powers of attorney for property and health care. They appoint an agent to stand in their shoes and perform various types of activities that they may or may not be able to do themselves. A health care power of attorney or durable financial power of attorney are most commonly used in the event of someone becoming disabled and they are no longer able to make their own personal and financial decisions.
Living wills provide peace of mind to people who wish to retain control over their lives even when circumstances make it difficult or impossible for them to do so. 755 Illinois Compiled Statutes 35/1 affirms that many people who are suffering from a terminal illness have the fundamental right to decide which medical steps should be taken to delay their death. While this does not equate to a right to die in legal terms, it does mean that all people have the right to refuse any life-saving treatment in case of a terminal condition.
An Illinois estate planning lawyer can protect your rights and your interests and work with you to prevent or minimize potential challenges to your will. Consulting an experienced probate, trust and estates attorney in Chicago or Lombard can give you advice and discuss your legal options. Contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-800-0112.