Can someone with Alzheimer’s create an estate plan?

On Behalf of | Nov 23, 2023 | Estate Planning |

An effective estate plan can do a lot for you and your family. While it can ensure a smooth transition of wealth that aligns with your wishes, it can also protect your family from infighting, spare you from being subjected to unwarranted healthcare and financial decisions, and ensure that your assets aren’t eaten away by taxation.

Yet, for your estate plan to work as you see fit, it has to be legally valid. This certainly means executing documents that comply with the law, but what if you or a loved one suffer from a medical condition that negatively impacts mental health, like Alzheimer’s? Can those who suffer these conditions still create a legally binding estate plan?

How Alzheimer’s plays into estate plan creation

One consideration that must be considered when assessing the validity of an estate plan is the estate plan creator’s mental capacity. If it’s found that they did not have the requisite mental capacity when key estate documents were created, those documents will be deemed invalid, which can completely derail an otherwise well thought out and detailed estate plan.

But how is mental capacity assessed? Here are the factors that a court will consider:

  • Whether the creator understood the extent and the nature of their property.
  • Whether the creator understood the natural objects related to their property.
  • Whether the creator understood how their estate plan disposed of their property.
  • Whether the creator understood how all of these elements fit together to form an estate plan.

As you can see, someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s could struggle with some of these factors. Yet, even those who have this medical condition experience periods of lucidity. Given that the analysis is conducted on the time that the estate planning document was executed, even someone with Alzheimer’s could create a legally binding estate plan.

How do you prove mental competency?

There are ways that you can support a showing of mental competency. This includes:

  • Writing down your justifications for how your assets are disposed.
  • Obtaining a medical opinion about your mental clarity in close proximity to the time that your estate plan documents are executed.
  • Making a gift to a family member near the time that you create your estate plan, given that their acceptance of your gift may indicate an acknowledgement that you have adequate mental capacity.

There may be other ways that you can prove your mental capacity, too. You and your loved ones will just want to think through your circumstances and find ways to document mental clarity.

What if your estate plan is challenged?

If you or your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s, you should expect that it’s going to come into play in your estate planning. Your family members who are dissatisfied with or concerned about your estate plan will likely challenge it, so you’ll want to be prepared with evidence supporting your position even before any of those challenges are made. That way, you’re ready to protect your position in court.

Do you need further guidance on your estate plan?

If so, you should seek out the resources you need to confidently move forward with the process. By doing so, you can develop a sound plan with contingencies that might give you, your loved one, and your family the protection they need. That way, you can take comfort knowing that assets will be distributed in accordance with your or your loved one’s wishes.