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Important Documents to Have in Place Before Dementia Sets In

Redding Law Office Jan. 6, 2023

Creating an estate plan allows a person to provide specific instructions in advance concerning how their estate, assets, and final affairs should be managed or settled after their demise. However, when a loved one has cognitive impairment or dementia, they may need help addressing estate planning matters. An experienced Texas estate planning attorney can inform you about some vital documents to put in place at the beginning stages of dementia. 

Redding Law Office is committed to offering trusted advocacy and reliable legal guidance to clients in estate planning-related matters. Attorney Chelsea Redding can educate you about how to discuss estate planning with a loved one who has cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, or dementia. In addition, she will help them draft important estate planning documents and make sure their plan is legal and valid. The firm proudly serves clients across Southlake, Denton County, and Tarrant County, Texas. 

Cognitive Impairment and Legal Capacity  

According to Texas law, legal capacity or testamentary capacity refers to the mental ability of a person drafting a will or estate plan to understand and make necessary decisions about the will or estate plan at the time of execution. This means that the person must be mentally competent and must have a detailed understanding of what they're doing. 

Unfortunately, legal capacity often diminishes with cognitive disorders. This is because a person who has a cognitive impairment such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease may experience unclear thinking, memory loss, or reduced problem-solving skills and thinking ability over time. Unless the person is of sound mind, they may be unable to create a legally valid estate plan. 

Important Documents to Have in Place 

Furthermore, a person diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia won't be considered to be legally incapacitated or of unsound mind immediately. At the early stages of dementia, the person may still be able to establish their estate plan. Here are some important documents to have in place: 


A will is a legal document that allows you (the testator) to provide specific instructions about how your assets and property should be handled, transferred to beneficiaries, or disposed of when you die. You can name a personal representative to help manage and distribute assets after your demise. 

Living Trust 

A living trust is a fiduciary relationship that allows you (the trustor or settlor) to give a dependable person (a trustee or successor trustee) the legal authority and duty to manage trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries. The trustee will administer the estate and transfer assets to beneficiaries according to the instructions provided in the trust documents – upon your death or sudden incapacitation. 

Advance Healthcare Directive 

An advance healthcare directive is a written document that allows you (the principal) to state your exact wishes and preferences about medical care, treatments, and procedures if you're unable to make your medical-related decisions on your own due to a severe illness, sudden incapacitation, or disability. The advance care may include information about dialysis, tissue and organ donation, blood transfusion, and brain donation. 

Durable Power of Attorney 

A durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows you (the principal) to authorize another person (the agent) to make crucial financial, property, tax, and legal decisions on your behalf should you become unable or unavailable to make such decisions by yourself. 

Do Not Resuscitate Order 

A do not resuscitate order is a written document that allows you to leave instructions for medical professionals not to perform CPR should your heart stop beating or if you stop breathing. 

Disposition of Remains 

Disposition of remains is a legal document that allows you to specify how your remains should be handled upon your death. The disposition of remains document should specify your funeral/burial arrangements and how your body should be treated when you're gone. 

In addition to putting all these important estate planning documents in place, the person must also put them in a safe and secure location. A seasoned attorney can guide you through the steps involved in establishing your estate plan and help keep copies of all documents safe. 

The Importance of Working with an Estate Planning Attorney 

Finding out that your parent or loved one has been diagnosed with dementia can be emotional. However, the decline rate for dementia differs for each person. Hence, you should start discussing estate planning early when they are able to understand the process involved. Attorney Chelsea Redding has devoted her career to guiding clients through estate planning procedures with dementia involved. 

As your attorney, she can tell you how to discuss estate planning with your loved ones and the crucial documents to have in place during the early stages of their cognitive disorder. Attorney Chelsea Redding will help draft their will, living trusts, powers of attorney, advanced care directives, and disposition of remains, and help them put their affairs in order. 

Contact Redding Law Office today to schedule a simple consultation with a skilled estate planning lawyer. Attorney Chelsea Redding has the resources and brilliant advocacy you need to navigate crucial decisions in your loved one's estate planning. The firm proudly serves clients across Southlake, Denton County, and Tarrant County, as well as the surrounding cities of Keller, Flower Mound, and Colleyville, Texas.