Dementia, whether spurred by Alzheimer's disease or other causes, is becoming an ever-increasing issue. With studies and forecasts universally predicting a continued dramatic rise in the occurrence of dementia in the decades ahead, the number of families touched by dementia will similarly grow, placing an increasing spotlight on the need for proper estate planning to address the issue of incapacity. It may be prudent to nominate an individual to serve as conservator of the person in the event a conservator of the person is to be appointed.
Studies performed by a variety of sources uniformly agree that the incidence of Alzheimer's and other dementias is increasing significantly. In 2012, the Alzheimer's Association concluded that the number of Alzheimer's disease cases in the U.S. totaled around 5.4 million, and predicted the number of annual new cases in 2050 would be double the current rate of new diagnoses. Studies agree that the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's increases with age. 96 percent of currently diagnosed Alzheimer's patients in the U.S. are age 65 or older. As medical technology and access to health care improve, and the number of people living beyond the age of 65 increases, so too will the number of dementia cases.
Closer to home, a separate Alzheimer's Association report concluded that more than 588,000 California families were living with the disease in 2008. The association estimated that number to swell to 678,000 in 2015, and nearly 1.15 million by 2030. Being diagnosed with Alzheimer's does not automatically make you incapacitated under California law. According to Section 811 of the Probate Code, incapacity requires a significant impairment of the ability to understand and appreciate the consequences of his or her actions brought on by a deficit in one or more of: alertness and attention, processing of information, clear thinking, and ability to control and regulate mood and affect.
As the frequency of age-related dementia cases, and the number of mentally incapacitated adults, ticks upward, it highlights the need to plan for such a possible outcome. The law permits you to appoint another person (your "agent") to make decisions for you regarding your health, and your assets, even if you become incapacitated due to dementia. You can name an agent to manage your assets in a power of attorney for finances. An advance health care directive, with serves as both your health care power of attorney and your living will, allows you to name an agent to make those decisions for you. Making your power of attorney "durable" is often an important aspect of incapacity planning. Powers of attorney that are durable continue to function, even if you become incapacitated. Powers that are not automatically terminate as soon as you become incapacitated.
As loved ones continue to enjoy longer and longer lives, the chance of their developing a mentally incapacitating condition increases. As a result, the need for proper estate planning increases, as well. To discuss your needs and discover your options, consult the Los Angeles incapacity and estate planning attorneys at Ginzburg & Bronshteyn, LLP. We help clients throughout Southern California, including Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Irvine, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Torrance, West Los Angeles, and Woodland Hills to create complete estate plans to protect them against a variety of life events, including incapacity. To contact our hardworking attorneys, please contact Ginzburg & Bronshteyn, LLP online or call us at (310) 914-3222.
Related blog posts:
Incapacitation and the California Estate Plan, Los Angeles Probate Litigation Attorney Blog, July 17, 2012
Gabor Conservatorship Battle Sent to Mediation in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Probate Litigation Attorney Blog, June 25, 2012