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Dementia can lead to a loss of testamentary capacity

It is never easy to realize that your loved one isn't the person they used to be. Over time, the elderly do tend to lose some of their mental faculties. This can mean that they're not in a position to make important decisions about their lives. If they do, they could be easily influenced or not fully understand the implications of their actions.

This is a particular problem among people who have dementia. Early on, people with dementia are often still in their right minds and able to make decisions. They may occasionally show signs that they are losing touch with their surroundings, but they snap back to reality quickly and understand how their actions are impacting others.

As the disease progresses, this changes. With more and more time passing, the memory loss and confusion becomes more significant and a real problem for people who care for that elder. They may find the elder no longer recognizes them or thinks they're someone they aren't. This is a serious problem that can lead to trouble if someone takes advantage of the elder's mental condition.

What can you do to protect your parent?

In many cases, it's actually family members or those close to the elder who try to take advantage of their vulnerable state. To help your loved one, you should make sure that they establish a durable power of attorney when they are still coherent and able to appoint one. Then, this person is the one who would have to seek changes to a will, financial or health-care related decisions. This individual would need to sign all legal documents, which would mean that your loved one couldn't sign and be taken advantage of.

The real problem is getting proof of your loved one's inability to make decisions on their own. You should take your elderly loved one to receive regular medical checkups and exams. There, the medical provider can determine how far the dementia has advanced and if it has an impact on your loved one's decision-making ability.

Once the medical provider determines that your loved one has lost the capacity to make sound decisions, you can obtain a written statement and keep this safe with your loved one's attorney. This document, along with witness testimonies, will be helpful if you have to challenge changes to a will that occurred after your loved one lost the ability to understand their actions.

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