When an elderly loved one creates an estate plan while suffering from dementia, it can cause a lot of potential issues for family members. How accurate is that plan? Does it really reflect what they wanted? If there are things that heirs do not expect — like getting cut out of the will — is that because the person had dementia?
It could be, and it can lead to estate disputes. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms that may impact an estate plan:
One of the most common symptoms is memory loss, and it can lead to oversights. For instance, perhaps a person updates their plan but forgets to include one grandchild. They leave money to all of the other grandchildren. Did they mean to cut them out of the will or did they just forget while writing it?
Issues with complex tasks
Even a relatively simple estate plan is a fairly complex document. As dementia takes hold, complex tasks become harder and sometimes impossible for the elderly. They could make mistakes that leave family members to try to figure out what they really wanted or what steps they need to take.
Difficulty with organization
Estate planning requires a person to be fairly well organized. They have to take stock of all of their assets and figure out how to divide them. They need to keep track of what paperwork they have done and what they have yet to do. If they struggle with organization, it can lead to a chaotic and incomplete estate plan.
Lack of understanding
As the disease progresses, it becomes more difficult for the person to understand exactly what is happening around them. This is often when those looking to commit fraud decide it’s time to act. For instance, someone may forge a will and get the elderly person to sign it by telling them it’s some other type of document entirely. Even a will that appears to be legal may not reflect what they wanted. Dementia didn’t cause this issue — the other person did, likely for their own gain — but it opened them up to the possibility.
Agitation and personality changes
Dementia is not easy to deal with, and it can often make a person act out of character. They may become hostile. This can lead to conflicts with family members. How will these conflicts impact the estate plan? Does the plan reflect who the person was before the disease?
These are just a few examples, but they really help to show the negative impact that dementia can have and how it can change a person’s estate plan and a family’s future. With any debates and disputes, it’s important to know what legal options you have.