Making legal decisions for a parent with dementia

On Behalf of | May 16, 2020 | Elder Law |

While no one wants to think about a world where their parents lose memory or rationality, dementia is a common illness among the aging population. While a dementia diagnosis is overwhelming for all involved, it is often the children that have to step in and make important decisions for their parents related to financial, healthcare and estate matters. 

We understand how elder law works in Georgia and have helped many of our clients with their cases. 

Dementia and mental competence 

Generally speaking, your parent is still considered mentally competent enough to enter and change their legal agreements in the beginning stages of dementia. This can pose problems if their symptoms flare-up unexpectedly while an important decision comes up. 

According to FindLaw, if your parent receives a dementia diagnosis of some sort but still has the legal capacity to make important decisions, you might want to set up a durable power of attorney. This document allows a trusted person to make legal, healthcare or financial decisions for the benefit of your parent. If you are the POA, this can make things easier down the road once dementia progresses. This should happen as soon as possible, however, because a durable POA is only possible if your parent is still legally competent. 

Dementia and mental incompetence 

If your parent is mentally incompetent according to the law, a different process must take place to give you the legal right to make decisions on their behalf. At this point, you must file for guardianship of your parent. This process is longer and more complicated than a POA because it involves a psychological evaluation and a petition to the court. More information about this topic is available on our webpage. 

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