Famed journalist Mike Wallace died in early April at the age of 93.While he had earned his reputation as a hard-nosed investigator and interviewer after decades of work, he suffered from all too common ailments. In addition to a lifetime struggle against depression, Mr. Wallace suffered from dementia in the final years of his life. While there is no cure for dementia, there are legal steps you can take to prepare yourself for the effects.
Fact 1: You can give someone else the ability to make your decisions.
Even if you have not been diagnosed with dementia, you can prepare now by creating a health care proxy or health care power of attorney. This document will allow someone else, usually your spouse or a trusted advisor, to step in and make medical decisions on your behalf if you lose your mental faculties.
Fact 2: You can make your decisions now.
While it’s good to have a health care proxy, you should also think about creating a living will. This document allows you to state your medical decisions in detail before you lose cognitive capacity. The living will also guides health care decisions your health care proxy will make.
Fact 3: You can do the same for your finances.
Just like medical decisions, you can give someone else the right to make financial decisions if you ever lose capacity. You do this by creating a financial power of attorney, a document that gives someone else control over only your finances. You can be a specific or as broad as you wish when creating these, but you must make sure that all such documents comply with state law.
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