Legal Issues for Caregivers
A person who learns that he or she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or any other debilitating illness is faced with important and difficult decisions regarding several very personal legal issues.
Justice delayed is democracy denied.
—Robert F Kennedy
If the patient does not make provisions for these matters while capable of doing so, these decisions will be made by a court-appointed conservator or guardian. If a person fails to make a will while still competent to do so, any property possessed at death will pass according to the law of the state in which the person is a resident at the time of death. Caregivers will benefit from a basic knowledge of the legal procedures and alternatives involved.Legal issues for caregivers are generally focused on the needs and desires of the patient. Those issues addressed in this chapter include the following:
The progression of Alzheimer's disease will result at some point in the patient being incapable of making decisions about the type and manner of medical treatment received and of managing financial affairs.
|•||What are the legal processes by which a patient with Alzheimer's disease may provide for health care and finances?|
|•||What documents are commonly used?|
|•||What are the provisions and limitations of such documents?|
|•||How are documents prepared, and who has responsibility to carry out prior directives regarding health care and finances?|
|•||When and what types of professional assistance should be sought?|
|•||What responsibility does a caregiver have to follow advance directives of his patient?|
|•||What is the result when the patient does not take any steps in planning for future health care and conservation of finances?|