Estate planning is important for anyone in New Jersey of any age. However, for those who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, it is important to begin estate planning as soon as possible, so they can advocate for themselves before their disease makes it impossible to make decisions.

To execute most estate planning documents, a person must have the legal capacity to do so. This means they must be able to understand what assets they own, who they are selecting as heirs or decision-makers, and what the consequences of executing these documents are. If a person has these abilities, then they probably have the legal capacity to make decisions regarding their estate plan.

There are steps a person can take to ensure their loved one has the legal capacity to execute an estate plan. First, one can talk about the matter with their loved one. This can help a person gauge whether their loved one understands what they are doing.

In addition, a person can talk to their loved one’s physician. A physician may be able to assess their loved one’s physical and mental health, to determine whether their loved one knows what the consequences are with regard to executing an estate plan.

Finally, a person can review any estate planning documents their loved one executed prior to being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Their loved one may no longer recall executing these documents. After reviewing the documents, it may be necessary to revise them in light of their loved one’s diagnosis.

Having a loved one diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be a difficult time. It is not easy to see a person’s mental capacity decline. For this reason, estate planning should take place sooner rather than later. This can ensure your loved one is taken care of once they can no longer care for themselves. Elder law attorneys can be a good source of information in such circumstances.