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Important Legal Documents to Have in Place Before Dementia Sets In

Caleb Bland Law, PLLC  July 31, 2023

Having a detailed estate plan is imperative to provide instructions regarding how your estate and financial affairs should be managed upon sudden incapacitation or death. However, in Kentucky, only a competent adult can create a valid will, trust, or estate plan. As a result, a person's ability to create an estate plan may come into question if they have degenerative diseases such as dementia. Therefore, it is important that you help your loved ones put the necessary estate planning documents in place before dementia sets in or at the early stages. 

According to data from the 2023 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, about 6.7 million Americans who are 65 and older are living with Alzheimer's and related dementias. If someone close to you has been diagnosed with dementia, you need to consult with an estate planning attorney and take proactive actions to help them put their affairs in order. At Caleb Bland Law, PLLC, we have the diligence and expertise to advise and guide individuals and their loved ones with cognitive impairment through the complexities of estate planning.  

Our dedicated attorney can enlighten you about the legal documents to have in place before dementia permanently sets in. We're proud to serve clients throughout Elizabethtown, Radcliff, Louisville, Bardstown, Hodgenville, and Hart County, Kentucky. 

Cognitive Impairment and Legal Capacity 

According to Kentucky laws, only a person who is older than 18 years and presumed to be mentally competent can create a valid will. This means that the person must be an adult and have the testamentary or mental capacity to direct their affairs. 

Additionally, a person is mentally competent to create their estate plan if they are of sound mind and can understand and identify the following: 

  • the nature and extent of their property 

  • the assets and property they own 

  • their relation to the natural heirs, beneficiaries, and loved ones is affected by the will 

  • the disposition they're making

  • how everything relates to forming a detailed plan for managing their estate and affairs 

Furthermore, at the early stages of cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia, the patient may still be considered to be mentally competent. However, these degenerative diseases often cause mental capacity and decision-making ability to gradually diminish. 

When a loved one has been showing early signs of cognitive impairment, or has been diagnosed with dementia, time is of the essence. You need to reach out to a skilled attorney for detailed guidance regarding the next steps to take for your loved one's estate planning matters

Important Documents to Have in Place 

The following provides a brief overview of some of the most important estate planning documents to establish once someone observes early signs of cognitive impairment.  


A will is one of the most common—and one of the most powerful—estate planning tools. Also known as a last will and testament, a will is a written document that allows you to set forth specific instructions about how your assets, property, and money should be managed, distributed, or disposed of once you’ve passed away. 

Living Trust 

A living trust allows you to authorize another person (a trustee or successor trustee) to hold trust assets until a future date for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Upon the sudden incapacitation or death of the trustor, the trustee will step in and administer the trust according to its provisions. 

Advance Healthcare Directive 

An advance healthcare directive is a written document where you can outline your preferred medical treatments and procedures in advance if you become incapacitated, seriously ill, or disabled and unable to make your healthcare decisions by yourself. 

Durable Power of Attorney 

A durable power of attorney document allows you to give legal authority or power to someone else (an attorney-in-fact or agent) to act on your behalf in various financial, property, legal, health, and tax-related matters if you become unable or unavailable to act. 

Do Not Resuscitate Order 

A do not resuscitate order is a written document that can be used to provide specific instructions for healthcare providers and physicians not to perform CPR or resuscitate you should your heart stop beating, or you stop breathing. 

Disposition of Remains 

The disposition of remains document can be used to provide details about your favored final arrangements—including burial and funeral plans—and how your surviving loved ones should manage or dispose of your remains once you've been pronounced dead.  

Helping You Plan for Anything 

At Caleb Bland Law, PLLC, we can advise you and your loved one about their available options and help facilitate the conversation. In addition, our reliable team can help draft vital estate planning documents and determine the best way to protect their accumulated property, assets, and investments. 

Contact us today to schedule a simple case evaluation with seasoned estate planning attorneys. Our experienced lawyers can guide you through the legal procedures involved in creating an estate plan for a loved one with dementia and help you navigate key decisions. We proudly serve clients across Elizabethtown, Radcliff, Louisville, Bardstown, Hodgenville, and Hart County, Kentucky.