Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. It is not a normal part of aging. It is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.
Alzheimer's disease is often an element in estate, probate, trust and financial elder abuse litigation. Wills, trusts, joint tenancies, deeds and paid on death accounts made by an elderly person with Alzheimer's may give rise to capacity, undue influence and financial elder abuse issues. That said, the existence of Alzheimer's does not automatically invalidate estate-planning documents. The inquiry must go further.
Law firms like Hackard Law that litigate estate-related cases will engage a psychiatrist or neuropsychologist to review the medical records of a testator or trustor who had the symptoms and/or diagnosis of Alzheimer's. This is only done where the plan of estate distribution is unfair.
A number of California universities have ongoing research and clinical trials for patients with Alzheimer's, among them: UC Davis Alzheimer's Disease Center; UCSF Memory and Aging Center; and Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at UCLA, Los Angeles.
An estimated 610,000 Californians - 11 percent of all seniors - are living with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia. It is the state's fifth-leading cause of death. Experts like UCSF's Professor of Neurology, Bruce L. Miller, state that early diagnosis of Alzheimer's is the single most effective way to help patients, but more than 50% of the people living with dementia and Alzheimer's Disease have not been diagnosed.
Defense attorneys often seize upon the lack of an Alzheimer's diagnosis as proof that a testator or trustor was not impaired. The careful gathering of facts that actually reflect the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's even if not diagnosed often overcome this defense. An expert may easily identify the various stages of Alzheimer's; the earliest stage; mild to moderate Alzheimer's; and severe Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease is a tragedy for its victim and for his or her family members. Families gather together to support their parent or spouse and can find outside help like the Alzheimer's Association. Lawyers need only be involved when there are suspect real and personal property transfers or the signs of undue influence resulting in unfair estate allocations.
When family members need counsel for advice in appropriate legal remedies to deal with apparent financial elder abuse of people undiagnosed or diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's call us at Hackard Law. (916) 313-3030. We'll be happy to speak with you.