Alzheimer’s Disease Does not Automatically Prevent Signing of Legal Documents

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Alzheimer’s Asset Protection Attorney

What happens when you’re told your husband has early onset Alzheimer’s Disease or any other degenerative cognitive diagnosis, especially when he has mostly good days and understands everything? While you may not appreciate what I’m about to say let me assure you, your trust and estate planning document(s) will now need substantial revision. But, can your spouse sign a new last will, power or attorney and trust with this diagnosis? If not, how do you handle the situation?

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease does not necessarily mean a husband (spouse) is not competent to change a will, power of attorney (POA) and/or a trust and then sign it. When he is lucid and can understand what he is doing, he can execute new estate planning and asset protection documents. That said, each spouse should be cautious to prevent any suspicion that he lacked testamentary capacity. Clients should also consult with a neurologist or psychiatrist who can verify that the husband was lucid at the time he executed his new estate planning documents.

Do not put this off. Alzheimer’s Disease is progressive and degenerative, and if the husband gets to the point where his cognition degrades and he lacks testamentary capacity, he will not be able to sign documents. At that point the family might need to seek guardianship over him. That can be emotionally wrenching and costly, too. Do not delay.

To discuss your NJ Alzheimer’s disease matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.