Estate planning is often a difficult subject for families to broach, especially if an aging parent appears to be suffering from mental decline. There are a variety of cognitive conditions that may affect elderly Miami residents, including complications from stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or progressive dementia. This can be heartbreaking for adult children to witness, not to mention complicated if their parents’ wills were not completed.

Once a person’s mental state has deteriorated past a certain point, states AgingCare, he or she may not be able to legally sign documents. This is because people must be able to plan and comprehend the elements of complex documents like wills. Unscrupulous people may be able to take advantage of a mentally incapacitated person otherwise. When an elderly parent is incapacitated, other family members – most often adult children – may be able to gain power of attorney. This allows the adult child to make legal decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person.

It is important to understand that those who have Alzheimer’s or other cognitive conditions may still be able to make decisions and sign legal documents if they are aware of their circumstances and understand the terms of the documents they would be signing. Degenerative mental conditions usually do not progress so quickly that a sufferer cannot prepare a will or trust after an early diagnosis.

Once family members are aware that their loved one is incapacitated or will become so, it is vital to take steps to ensure their financial and medical needs will be taken care of. According to, this may include obtaining a guardianship over the incapacitated person, as well as trust creation. A living trust would serve the purpose of managing the finances related to the care of the beneficiary. Seeking legal help as soon as possible after finding out a loved one is suffering from an age-related mental condition may prevent heartache and legal hassles in the future.

Luis E. Barreto