Just as most people would prefer not to have to spend much time contemplating their own death, most people would also prefer not to envision a life suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. If you have avoided thinking about the possibility, you are hardly alone; however, from an estate planning perspective, it is imperative that you do consider the possibility. If you develop Alzheimer’s in the future, someone else will need to take over control of your assets and make important decisions for you eventually. You have the opportunity to decide who that person will be instead of letting a court decide, but you must take steps to make that decision a legally binding decision. Fortunately, an incapacity planning attorney can help you plan for the possibility that you will develop Alzheimer’s at some point down the road.
Understanding Alzheimer’s – Facts and Figures You Need to Know
You probably already know that the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s has grown in recent decades; however, you may not be aware of just how prevalent the disease is nor the financial and practical impact it has on everyone involved. The following facts and figures may put things in perspective:
- Alzheimer’s was identified over a century ago. Although we often think of Alzheimer’s as a new disease that has just recently started to impact the elderly population in the United States, the truth is that Alzheimer’s was first recognized back in 1906 and named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer.
- 1 in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia disease.
- Alzheimer’s kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
- Early onset Alzheimer’s is thought to be genetic. About five percent of all Alzheimer patients suffer from “early onset Alzheimer’s,” characterized by the onset of symptoms prior to turning 60 years old. Experts believe that most instances of early onset Alzheimer’s are caused by the patient inheriting one of three genetic mutations.
- There are approximately 5 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s in the U.S.
- By the year 2050, experts predict the number of people suffering from the disease in the U.S. to increase to 16 million.
- In 2017 alone, the cost of caring for Alzheimer patients is expected to be about $260 billion.
- Family and other caregivers will give another 18 million hours of unpaid care valued at an additional $230 billion.
- Alzheimer’s causes more than just loss of memory. Your body essentially forgets how to function. Alzheimer’s disease causes death, as its progression eventually prevents the individual from engaging innate abilities like moving and swallowing.
- Minorities are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s. African-Americans are about twice as likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s and Hispanics one and a half times as likely as older whites.
- Every 66 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s. By the middle of this century, experts predict that someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds if a way to prevent or cure the disease is not found.
Planning for Your Own Incapacity
If you do develop Alzheimer’s, there will likely come a time when you are no longer able to make decisions nor manage your assets. By planning for that eventuality now, you can decide who will take over for you by using any of a number of incapacity planning tools, such as:
- Revocable Living Trust – this allows you to create a trust and name yourself as the Trustee along with someone of your choice as the successor Trustee. Major assets are transferred into the trust and managed by you as long as you are able to do so. In the event of your incapacity, your chosen successor Trustee takes over automatically and without the need for any additional legal steps to be taken.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney – this is a type of advance directive that allows you to appoint an Agent who will have the legal authority to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself due to incapacity.
- Living Will – another type of advance directive that lets you make important decisions regarding certain types of medical treatment now in the event you are unable to provide informed consent at a later date.
Contact an Incapacity Planning Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about planning for your own incapacity, contact an experienced incapacity planning attorney at Augulis Law Firm by calling 908-222-8803 to schedule your appointment today.
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