Estate plans are an important part of an elder's life. They can say many things, from what happens to their assets to how they will be treated in the case that a life-threatening situation emerges. It is not always easy for families to discuss estate plans, but it is important to do so.
As your loved one ages, their ability to make good decisions may begin to decline. As a result, any changes that take place in a will or estate plan could become null and void in the future. It is better for you to know the signs that someone is no longer able to make their own decisions and to have a working knowledge of the current estate plan and your loved one's wishes.
What can you do to protect your loved one's wishes and estate plan?
Even if your loved one does not lack testamentary capacity at the moment, there is a risk that they may lack it in the future. It is a good idea to talk about what they would like to see happen if they begin to have a mental decline. It is also a good idea to set up a doctor's appointment to get a base line for your parent's or loved one's current mental state. You may wish to have yearly health checks to make sure that your loved one still retains the capacity to make decisions.
Some people don't like to address this problem because of the fact that it is not a guaranteed issue. However, it is better to discuss your loved one's wishes while they are healthy then to find out later that they have made decisions that they did not understand.
People often don't understand how they could lose testamentary capacity considering their current state of good health. The fact is that there are many different conditions that can affect testamentary capacity. Some are not genetic, and others develop over a long time period.
For example, someone who is in a car accident could suddenly find themselves with brain trauma and a lack of testamentary capacity to continue making decisions for themselves. On the other hand, an elderly person may slowly lose capacity while developing dementia. These are just two examples of the many ways that people could lose their ability to make sound decisions.
To protect your loved one, a good estate plan needs to have regular updates. Medical exams are a must, so you can both rest easy in knowing that the right decisions are being made by the right people.