Estate Planning Documents and Medicaid Planning

The conversation that you have with an estate planning attorney, when you are in your thirties with a new house, young children, and many years ahead of you is different than the one you’ll have when you are much older, maybe just before you retire. The estate planning attorney will know that you are about to enter a time in your life, when the legal documents you prepare are more likely to be used, says the article “Learn about legal documents and Medicaid” from the Houston Chronicle.

It should be noted that everyone needs an estate plan at any time of life, so they may state their wishes for how assets are distributed and name a person who will speak in their behalf, in the event of incapacity because of an illness or injury. Long term care concerns require a discussion of Medicaid.

An estate plan also includes a power of attorney, so someone you chose can serve as your agent to transact business and handle your financial matters. There should also be a declaration of guardian, in the event of later incapacity and a HIPAA medical authorization document. In some instances, a designation of remains is prepared in order to name an individual who will be the appointed agent to care for the body at the time of death.

However, there’s another reason why you’ll need to meet with an attorney at this time. As we get older, the need to address long term care becomes more important. Making the right decisions now, could have a big impact on the quality of your retirement and your later in life medical care.

If you have not updated your will or your powers of attorney, specifically a durable power of attorney for property, it would be wise to do so now. You will need a document to clearly authorize your agent to deal with assets for Medicaid Planning. Any documents that are out of date, or in which named agents have predeceased you, won’t be effective, leading to problems for you and your heirs.

The document may also need to include a broad gifting power for your named agent, so assets can be transferred out of the estate. If this detail is overlooked, the agent may not be able to protect your assets.

This is the time when you may want to take steps to protect your children upon your death or upon the death of the second parent. If your goal is to eliminate assets to be eligible for Medicaid coverage, this planning needs to be done well in advance. In numerous states, there are state administered programs that pursue recovery of assets when a person has received Medicaid benefits.

Your attorney will be able to work with you and your family to address your specific situation. It may be that your estate plan will include trusts, or that certain assets need to be retitled. Meet with an estate planning attorney who is familiar with your state’s laws. And don’t procrastinate.

Reference: The Houston Chronicle (April 19, 2019) “Learn about legal documents and Medicaid”

 

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Senior Living – How to Start the Process of Moving

When you have a close relative or friend who might benefit from moving into a development for aging adults, you might not know how to go about getting from where he is now to settling him into the community of his dreams. Everyone’s situation is different, and you should do what is appropriate, but it can help to have a few pointers on how to start the process of moving into senior living.

Getting the Family Involved

https://www.parkertrustlaw.com/family-relationships-mess-up-estate-planning-ask-an-estate-planning-lawyer/You should not try to handle everything on your own, if there are other family members who can shoulder some of the responsibility. Taking on the project of getting your aging relative moved into assisted living can be exhausting. Doing all this by yourself can also create resentment and suspicion among your siblings and other close relatives. Your family members should all have input into the many decisions this move can generate. It is easier on everyone, if the family can work together amicably.

At the family meeting, you and your family need to agree on who will be the point of contact for the senior living center. Your family might need to designate one person to be the decision-maker, particularly if your aging relative has cognitive decline or a condition like Alzheimer’s disease.

Some families split up the duties, with one person handling medical decisions, another person taking care of insurance issues and another managing the loved one’s finances. Whenever possible, you should have at least two people looking over the bank statements, investments, payment of bills and other financial matters.

Doing Your Homework

Your older loved one will likely have many questions about senior living centers. You should educate yourself on the details of several facilities, so you can answer her questions. After you find at least three developments, pore through their websites and then take a tour of each center.

Having the Conversation

Some people start with this step, but you really should have a grasp of the options available for your loved one before sitting down to talk. You need to collect the information to answer her questions.

Jot down some questions you anticipate your loved one will ask – an informal FAQs list. Ask the questions when you tour each senior development. When you feel you have enough information to respond to the questions you anticipate, then sit down with your aging loved one and “have the talk.”

Develop a Plan

The conversation does not have to end with your loved one going into assisted living immediately. If he is angry or upset about moving into a senior community, give him a little time, as long as he is not in danger while continuing to live in his own home.

You should have a plan, but that plan could be that you will tour three facilities and then sit down and talk again in six months. If things change in the meantime, you could revisit the topic before the six months are over.

If your aging relative wants to go forward, you could set up a plan that covers these topics:

  • Touring at least three developments initially.
  • Talking about what your loved one liked and did not like about each location.
  • Finding several more facilities to tour, tailored to your relative’s preferences.
  • Asking the centers you visit for a list or brochure about the steps a senior needs to complete, like selling the house, packing, and moving, to make the transition from the family home to a senior development center.
  • Go over the list with your loved one and family members to distribute the work equitably among everyone.

Talk with an elder law attorney in your area about any insights or experiences he or she may offer. Before signing a contract with a facility, have the attorney review it for your loved one.

References:

A Place for Mom. “Having the Conversation” (accessed April 14, 2019) https://www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice/articles/having-the-conversation

 

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Beneficiary Designations – What are Common Mistakes?
Elderly lady typing on laptop. Shallow DOF.

Beneficiary Designations – What are Common Mistakes?

Many people don’t understand that their will doesn’t control who inherits all of their assets when they pass away. Some of a person’s assets pass by beneficiary designation. That’s accomplished by completing a form with the company that holds the asset and naming who will inherit the asset, upon your death.

Kiplinger’s recent article, “Beneficiary Designations: 5 Critical Mistakes to Avoid,” explains that assets including life insurance, annuities and retirement accounts (think 401(k)s, IRAs, 403bs and similar accounts) all pass by beneficiary designation. Many financial companies also let you name beneficiaries on non-retirement accounts, known as TOD (transfer on death) or POD (pay on death) accounts.

Naming a beneficiary can be a good way to make certain your family will get assets directly. However, these beneficiary designations can also cause a host of problems. Make sure that your beneficiary designations are properly completed and given to the financial company, because mistakes can be costly. The article looks at five critical mistakes to avoid when dealing with your beneficiary designations:

  1. Failing to name a beneficiary. Many people never name a beneficiary for retirement accounts or life insurance. If you don’t name a beneficiary for life insurance or retirement accounts, the financial company has it owns rules about where the assets will go after you die. For life insurance, the proceeds will usually be paid to your estate. For retirement benefits, if you’re married, your spouse will most likely get the assets. If you’re single, the retirement account will likely be paid to your estate, which has negative tax ramifications. When an estate is the beneficiary of a retirement account, the assets must be paid out of the retirement account within five years of death. This means an acceleration of the deferred income tax—which must be paid earlier, than would have otherwise been necessary.
  2. Failing to consider special circumstances. Not every person should receive an asset directly. These are people like minors, those with specials needs, or people who can’t manage assets or who have creditor issues. Minor children aren’t legally competent, so they can’t claim the assets. A court-appointed conservator will claim and manage the money, until the minor turns 18. Those with special needs who get assets directly, will lose government benefits because once they receive the inheritance directly, they’ll own too many assets to qualify. People with financial issues or creditor problems can lose the asset through mismanagement or debts. Ask your attorney about creating a trust to be named as the beneficiary.
  3. Designating the wrong beneficiary. Sometimes a person will complete beneficiary designation forms incorrectly. For example, there can be multiple people in a family with similar names, and the beneficiary designation form may not be specific. People also change their names in marriage or divorce. Assets owners can also assume a person’s legal name that can later be incorrect. These mistakes can result in delays in payouts, and in a worst-case scenario of two people with similar names, can mean litigation.
  4. Failing to update your beneficiaries. Since there are life changes, make sure your beneficiary designations are updated on a regular basis.
  5. Failing to review beneficiary designations with your attorney. Beneficiary designations are part of your overall financial and estate plan. Speak with your estate planning attorney to determine the best approach for your specific situation.

Beneficiary designations are designed to make certain that you have the final say over who will get your assets when you die. Take the time to carefully and correctly choose your beneficiaries and periodically review those choices and make the necessary updates to stay in control of your money.

Reference: Kiplinger (April 5, 2019) “Beneficiary Designations: 5 Critical Mistakes to

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Figuring Out A Parent’s Financial Life, When They Cannot
Elder Couple at Home with Bills

Figuring Out A Parent’s Financial Life, When They Cannot

Imagine that your perfectly fine, aging-well parent has had a minor stroke and is no longer able to manage their financial or legal affairs. Your parent has been living independently, waiving off offers of help or even having someone come in to clean for years. It seemed as if it would go on that way forever. What happens, asks the Daily Times, when you are confronted with this scenario in the aptly-titled article “Senior Life: What a nightmare! Untangling a loved one’s finances”?

After the health crisis is over, it’s time to get busy. Open the door to the home and start looking. Where’s the will, where are the bank statements and where’s the information about Social Security benefits? When you start making calls or going online, you run into a bigger problem than figuring out where the papers are kept, no one will talk with you. You are not legally authorized, even though you are a direct descendant.

This happens all the time.

Statistically speaking, it is extremely likely that your parent will end up, at some point, in a nursing home or a rehabilitation center for an extended period of time. Most people have no idea what their parent’s financial situation is, where and how they keep their financial and legal records and what they would need to do in an emergency.

It’s not that difficult to fix, but you and your hopefully healthy parent or parents need to start by planning for the future. That means sitting down with an estate planning attorney and making sure to have some key documents, most importantly, a Power of Attorney.

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives you permission to act on another person’s behalf as their agent, if they are unable to do so. It must be properly prepared for your state’s laws.  It allows you to pay bills and make decisions on behalf of a loved one, while they are alive. Without it, you’ll need to go to court to be appointed as legal guardian. That takes time and is more expensive, than having a POA created and properly executed.

If you have downloaded a Power of Attorney and are hoping it works, be warned: chances are good it won’t. Many financial institutions insist that the only POA they will accept, are the ones that they issue.

Once you have a POA in place, assuming that your parent is able to sign it, then it’s time to get organized. You’ll need to go through all the important papers, setting up a system so you can see what bills need to be paid, how many bank accounts or investment accounts exist and review her financial status.

Next, it’s time to consolidate. If your parent was a child of the Depression, chances are they have money in many different places. This gave them a sense of security and gives you a headache. Consolidate four different checking accounts into one. The same should be done for any CDs, investment accounts and credit cards. Have her Social Security and any pension checks deposited into one account.

If you need help, and you might, don’t hesitate to ask for it. The stress of organizing decades of a loved one’s home, plus caring for them and managing the winding down of a home can be overwhelming. Your estate planning attorney will be able to connect you with a number of resources in your area.

Reference: Daily Times (April 9, 2019) “Senior Life: What a nightmare! Untangling a loved one’s finances”

 

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Elder Abuse -The People They Trust, Rip Off Seniors the Most

Seniors are frequent victims of financial elder abuse, whether the crook is a stranger or someone the older adult knows. Sadly, the people they trust rip off seniors the most. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) analyzed the financial exploitation of older Americans, by poring through government reports that looked into suspicious financial activity.

During a recent four-year period, fraudsters stole or tried to steal more than $6 billion from seniors. The criminal activity is increasing, as shown by the fact that the number of annual reports of financial abuse quadrupled during that time. Since many people do not realize they have been the victim of theft or do not report it, the CFPB estimates that the actual losses could be between $2.9 billion and $36.5 billion every year.

The Older You Are, the More They Steal from You

When the victim was between the ages of 70 and 79, the average loss was $45,300. The average amount stolen from people between 60 and 69 was $22,700. Those in their 50s, sustained average losses of $13,400.

Who Is Stealing from Older Americans?

Strangers account for 51 percent of the scams that take money away from seniors. This category includes thing like:

  • Emails that say the older adult owes money to the government or the electric company;
  • Telephone calls claiming that a grandchild has an emergency in another country and needs money wired; or
  • “Romance” scams in which people in other countries have a fake relationship with the lonely senior, just to get him to send them thousands of dollars for the “fiancé” to fly to the United States for a visit. Of course, the person takes the money and breaks off communication with the senior.

The government does not know who the exploiter was in every case. In about 14 percent of the reports, the victim did not identify the perpetrator.

Family members, caregivers, and fiduciaries account for 36 percent of the financial abuse of seniors. A fiduciary is someone who has the authority to manage the older adult’s money, such as a broker, accountant, trustee, guardian, conservator, or someone who has a power of attorney to act on the senior’s behalf.

Who Steals the Most from the Elderly?

The sad truth is that the people they should be able to trust the most, take the lion’s share of the money from older adults. Here is how the amount of theft breaks down, by perpetrator groups:

How to Prevent Elder Financial Abuse

These tips can help you to shield your aging friends and relatives from becoming victims of financial abuse:

  • Talk with your older loved ones and make sure they understand how to safeguard themselves from the well-known types of rip-offs from strangers. Educate at-risk relatives about suspicious emails, telephone calls, online scams and mail.
  • Set up a system of checks and balances for your loved one’s finances. Never allow the person who provides the caregiving, to manage the person’s money. Have one person perform one task and someone else oversee the finances.
  • Have a two-factor authentication system for any fiduciaries, so someone else always reviews the financial transactions that these people make.
  • Be extremely careful when selecting a fiduciary, whether for yourself or a loved one.

References:

AARP. “Older Americans Hit Hard by Financial Fraud.” (accessed March 23, 2019) https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2019/cfpb-report-financial-elder-abuse.html

 

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Surviving Spouse Needs An Estate Plan such as a Revocable Trust
Two Adirondack chairs on deck

Surviving Spouse Needs An Estate Plan such as a Revocable Trust

When one spouse dies after meticulously titling assets to pass through joint tenancy to the surviving spouse, estate planning attorneys flinch. There are occasions when everything works smoothly, but they are the exception. As this article from the Santa Cruz Sentinel warns “After husband’s death, wife needs to create revocable trust.” Actually, she needs more than a revocable trust: she needs an estate plan.

Most of the assets in the plan created by her husband, in this case, did pass to the wife outside of probate. However, there are a number of details that remain. She needs to obtain date-of-death values for any non-IRA securities the couple owned, and she should also have their home’s value determined, so that a new cost basis for the house will be established. She also needs an appointment with an estate planning attorney to create a will and an estate plan.

If she dies without a will, her children will inherit the estate in equal shares by intestate succession. However, if any of her children pass before she does, the estate could be distributed to her grandchildren. If they are of legal age, there is no control over how the assets will be managed.  Making matters worse, if a child or grandchild is disabled and receiving government benefits, an inheritance could make them ineligible for Social Security and Medicaid benefits, unless the inheritance is held within a Special Needs Trust.

Another reason for an estate plan: a will details exactly how assets are distributed, from the set of pearls that great aunt Sarah has kept in the family for decades to the family home. A durable power of attorney is also part of an estate plan, which lets a named family member or trusted friend make financial decisions on your behalf, if you become incapacitated. An estate plan also includes an advance health care directive, so a loved one can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able.

These are the basics of an estate plan. They protect loved ones from having to go to court to obtain the power to make decisions on your behalf, as well as protect your family from outsiders making claims on your estate.

A revocable trust is one way to avoid probate. An estate planning attorney will be able to evaluate your own unique situation and determine what the best type of trust would be for your situation, or if you even need a trust.

You may be thinking of putting your home, most families’ biggest asset, into joint tenancy with your children. What if one or more of your children have a divorce, lawsuit or bankruptcy? This will jeopardize your control of your home. A revocable trust will allow your assets to remain in your control.

The last piece in this estate is the IRA. If you are the surviving spouse, you’ll want to roll over your spouse’s IRA into your own. Make sure to update the beneficiary designation. If you neglect this step and the IRA pays into your estate when you pass, then the IRA has to be cashed in within five years of your death. Your children will lose the opportunity to stretch IRA distributions over their lifetimes.

An estate planning attorney can help guide you through this entire process, working through all the details. If your goal is to avoid probate, they can make that happen, while protecting you and your loved ones at the same time.

Reference: Santa Cruz Sentinel (March 24, 2019) “After husband’s death, wife needs to create revocable trust”

 

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The Benefits of Going to Geriatricians
Pair of Human Hands Checking the Blood Pressure of a Patient --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

The Benefits of Going to Geriatricians

Geriatricians are doctors who, in addition to practicing family medicine or internal medicine, have specialized training in the health issues of aging adults. Think of the geriatrician as a physician who can help catch a problem, before it rages out of control, and sometimes can prevent a health issue from happening. If you want to enjoy the best possible health and well-being as you get older, you should consider the benefits of going to a geriatrician.

You can use a geriatrician as an occasional specialist or in place of your primary care provider. Most people over the age of 65 do not need regular care from a geriatrician, but an occasional consultation would not hurt, in order to stay at peak health. About 30% of people over 65 should visit a geriatrician for one or more of the following reasons:

Preventing Falls

They are not getting around on foot as well as they used to. Some people in their 80s are still running marathons, but others have trouble walking or don’t feel as stable as they once did. A geriatrician can evaluate your gait and balance. The doctor can also suggest exercises you can do at home to improve your balance and strength. The geriatrician might send you to a physical therapist or occupational therapist to assess your risk of falling.

The goal is to prevent you from experiencing a fall. Nothing injures older adults more than falls, and far too many of these injuries result in death to the senior. If you lose your mobility, you are likely to lose your independence and your ability to continue living in your home. Getting a balance and gait assessment from a geriatrician, can help to prevent this outcome.

Getting back on your feet after hospitalization

If you end up in the hospital for a traumatic injury, getting a consultation with a geriatric specialist before you go home, is likely to improve your ability to resume your typical daily activities. From self-care to handling your money to going grocery shopping, you will be far ahead of people who did not meet with the geriatrician before getting discharged from the hospital.

Having memory issues

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a precursor to several conditions, including depression and dementia. Without specialized training, your primary care physician might overlook MCI. Most older people who probably have dementia, either do not realize they have it or their doctor has not yet diagnosed it. When you become aware of MCI, you can take steps to manage it, so that you can retain your independence as long as possible.

Taking prescription drugs or supplements

Sometimes people feel groggy or confused and assume that they have Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. However, in reality, a medication or supplement is causing them to feel that way. Seniors often have several healthcare providers. These doctors do not always talk to each other, before prescribing medications. As a result, some older adults are on six, eight, or 10 or more drugs, which can interact with each other. A geriatrician can assess all of your medications and eliminate unnecessary ones or substitute better options for drugs that are causing you problems.

References:

AARP. “When It’s Time to See a Geriatrician.” (accessed March 21, 2019) https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2019/geriatrics-specialist.html

 

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Senior Scams Range from Promised Luxury Cars to Stolen Homes

Are Senior Scams a form of Elder Abuse? Too bad this particular scammer had no idea to whom he was speaking. The officer played along, asking when she could get the car, and telling the scammer it was snowing and she didn’t want to get that on her brand-new Mercedes. After too many questions, the scammer hung up on her, reports the New Haven Independent in an article “Senior Study Scam Avoidance 101.”

Unfortunately, not every senior is that savvy, when it comes to being scammed. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost more than $900 million in 2017 – that’s $63 million dollars more than in 2016 — to fraud, and many of the victims are seniors, who are routinely targeted.

Some of the cases are debt collection fraud, where a phone caller says they are calling from the IRS or the U.S. Marshall Service, stating vehemently that the person they are calling owes money to the government. The threat of jail time is frightening to enough people, that they fall for it.

Seniors are advised over and over again: the IRS does not call to make threats, and it’s definitely not calling to demand payment in gift cards from a major retailer. However, the scammers speak with authority and are extremely convincing. As a result, many people fall into the traps.

What makes scammers more frightening, is when they use a small piece of the senior’s identity. They may read the home address and insist that they will come to their home to collect the debt. They could also mention a family member, one who has passed away lately, and claim that they know everything about the person.

Another scam is to call and say that a beloved grandchild is in prison or has been kidnapped and needs money fast to pay ransom or bail to get out of jail. If this occurs, immediately hang up and contact the person or someone who can verify their safety, to make sure they are okay.

If someone has been arrested, they have the right to make one phone call. Authorities are not likely to be calling a person’s grandparents for bail money.

Another major source of fraud comes from those who know the senior or befriends them, solely to get their money or even their home. There are tales of caregivers, who become more and more involved in a senior’s life, often pushing their family members away and isolating the individual, so they can’t ask for help. Be wary of new people who are pushy about being helpful, especially if they ask to use your credit card or debit card to run errands for you.

Sadly, there are also many instances of family members who are charged and convicted for financial elder abuse, using their relationship with aging parents or other relatives to gain access to their finances. Be wary, warn experts, even when it is a family member. Read your credit card bills and bank statements carefully, to make sure that your money isn’t disappearing. Keep personal finance information secure. Learn more at our website.

 

 

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Personality Changes in Seniors

When You Should Worry About Personality Changes in Seniors.

It can be frustrating when your aging parents seem to become grumpy or irritable. You wonder if you did something wrong. You worry about whether your dad is going to be cranky from now on. You might stress over whether his bad moods are a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. If you find yourself in this boat with your aging spouse or parent, here is some information on personality changes in seniors.

If your aging loved one becomes moodier than usual and there does not seem to be a reason, people close to her should pay attention and try to find out what is causing the difference in mood. She might be in pain with arthritis or another uncomfortable medical condition. She could be upset, because she is struggling financially after a lifetime of hard work.

Her medication might be affecting her mood. Sometimes the answer is a simple thing like drinking more water. Dehydration can cause headaches, which can make the sufferer irritable. Keep track of her liquid intake and adjust accordingly.

There are times, however, when emotional disturbances can indicate a more serious problem, like an undiagnosed medical problem, a medication reaction or the early stages of dementia. If you cannot find a reason for your loved one’s moodiness, you might want to go along with her to the doctor.

Grumpy Older People are an Inaccurate Stereotype

Many people assume that every person over the age of 50 yells “Get off my lawn!” to all passersby. In reality, older people are no more likely to be cranky than people of any other age. In fact, researchers say that overall seniors tend to be happier than younger people. Over time, many people tend to remember the happy experiences and the memories of daily annoyances fade.

When seniors retire, they no longer have to deal with the daily hassles of commuting to work, dealing with difficult co-workers and getting paid a lower salary than their less intelligent boss to do a job they hate. Instead of having all the work and stress of raising their children, the aging adult gets to visit the grandchildren, getting all the enjoyment and none of the work.

It is easy to see why many people become happier as they get older. Perhaps the stereotype of grumpy older adults, is just a creation of our ageist society that does not value its elders.

Why Some Seniors Appear to be Cranky

Let’s say that your dad was soft-spoken when you were growing up. He did not criticize or complain. All of your friends wished he was their dad. Now that you are grown, he speaks his mind and lets people know when he does not like something. He might not be irritable. He might just be less concerned about what people think of him. Many people reach a point, at which they realize that they do not have to try to please everyone.

Lack of Accommodations Can Make Older Adults Irritable

It used to be fun to go out to eat with your mom. However, now she is so disagreeable, that you wonder if it is worth the effort. Try to think of it from her perspective. She had to struggle to get out of the car and make her way with a walker or cane through a crowded restaurant, hoping she did not fall and break a bone, when a child darted in front of her.

With all the background noise, it can be hard for her to follow the conversation at the table or hear what the server is saying. Without bright lighting, she might not be able to read the menu. Rather than focus on her behavior, you should realize that our society makes few accommodations for seniors. Learn more from our website about personality changes in seniors.

 

 

 

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How Do I Prepare my Parents for Alzheimer’s?

Can your mom just sell her house, despite her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s?

The (Bryan TX) Eagle reports in the recent article “MENTAL CLARITY: Shining a light on the capacity to sign Texas documents” that the concept of “mental capacity” is complicated. There’s considerable confusion about incapacity. The article explains that different legal documents have a different degree of required capacity. The bar for signing a Power of Attorney, a Warranty Deed, a Contract, a Divorce Decree, or a Settlement Agreement is a little lower than for signing a Will. The individual signing legal documents must be capable of understanding and appreciating what he or she is signing, as well as the effect of the document.

The answer the question of whether the mom can sign the deed to her house over to the buyer.  is likely “yes.” She must understand that she’s selling her house, and that, once the document is signed, the house will belong to someone else. A terminal diagnosis or a neurodegenerative disease doesn’t automatically mean that an individual can’t sign legal documents. A case-by-case assessment is required to see if the document will be valid.

The fact that a person is unable to write his or her name doesn’t mean they lack capacity. If a senior can’t sign her name (possibly due to tremors or neurodegeneration), she can sign with an “X”. She could place her hand on top of someone else’s and allow the other person to sign her name. If this is completed before witnesses and the notary, that would be legal.

A hard part of Alzheimer’s is that a person’s mental clarity can come and go. Capacity can be fluid in the progress of a neurodegenerative or other terminal disease. Because of this, the best time to sign critical documents is sooner rather than later. No one can say the “window of capacity” will remain open for a certain amount of time.

Some signs should prompt you to move more quickly. These include things like the following:

  • Short-term memory loss;
  • Personality changes (e.g., unusual anger);
  • Confusing up or forgetting common-usage words and names; and
  • Disorientation and changes in depth perception.

Any of the signs above could be caused by dementia or many other problems. Talk to your parent’s physician and an elder law attorney. He or she can discuss the options, document your parent’s legal capacity, and get the right documents drafted quickly.

Reference: The (Bryan TX) Eagle (February 7, 2019) “MENTAL CLARITY: Shining a light on the capacity to sign Texas documents”

 

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