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Dementia, wills and capacity issues

Older Americans can face a variety of health problems. As America's baby boomers age, these problems are becoming more prevalent in our society. One of the most devastating diagnosis that a person can receive is that of dementia. Dementia occurs when adults are diagnosed with a variety of diseases. These diseases can include Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other disorders. People with dementia are often unable to live independently or to make decisions in their best interests.

Dementia can make it difficult for adults to make medical and financial decisions. It can also make it difficult, or impossible, for people to undertake estate planning. When adults are diagnosed with dementia, or dementia causing diseases, steps need to be taken to complete an estate plan. It will be important for people to understand how their property should be distributed in case of their deaths.

Dementia and estate planning, however, can present some challenges. This is because in order to create a valid estate plan, a person must have the testamentary capacity to execute estate planning documents. In particular, people must have the capacity to create will.

Generally, in order to be able to create a will, people must be of sound mind. The specifics required for this vary depending on the specific facts in each case. However, generally, in order to have capacity to sign will, people must know the extent of their property, the extent of their kin and how the person wants to make this disposition.

If a dementia patient is unable to meet these requirements, the person may not have the capacity to execute the will. In these cases, other estate planning tools and legal protections may be necessary. These can include executing a durable power of attorney or entering into a guardianship arrangement.

It is important for all Michigan residents to create a comprehensive estate plan. When people are diagnosed with medical issues, this can become even more important. An attorney may be able to help families in Michigan understand their estate planning options when they face a difficult medical crisis such as a dementia diagnosis.

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