In many situations in which an individual with dementia is able to understand the importance and the meaning of any given legal document, he or she most likely has the legal capacity to execute such a document. Legal capacity refers to appreciating and understanding the consequences of your actions.
As long as an individual with dementia has the appropriate legal capacity, he or she is eligible to take part in a legal planning process. An attorney can help to determine what level of legal capacity is necessary in order for an individual to sign a particular document. It is not uncommon for adult children who have elderly loved ones facing dementia to have pertinent questions that can be addressed by an estate planning attorney.
Before an individual with dementia signs a legal document, there are several different steps that you should take in order to ensure that you are evaluating them appropriately with regard to their capacity. These include:
- Talking with the person directly to determine whether or not they understand the consequences of their actions.
- Get medical advice from a doctor who knows the patient.
- Take inventory of any current legal documents already in existence.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you when it is important to identify some things that you need to do to protect a loved one who is facing a dementia diagnosis.