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Alzheimer's, Widowed Stepmothers & Estate Crimes | Episode 5

Alzheimer's, Widowed Stepmothers & Estate Crimes | Episode 5Hello, I'm Mike Hackard. I lead Hackard Law, a law firm that focuses on significant estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation in California. I'm the author of the new book Alzheimer's, Widowed Stepmothers & Estate Crimes, now available on Amazon.

Alzheimer's and conditions like dementia are not properly diagnosed and reported to patients as often as they should be. Sometimes that's because physicians might lack specialized training to identify specific symptoms, and sometimes a doctor simply doesn't want to deliver heartbreaking news to a patient and their family. Whatever the reason, failure to diagnose cognitive decline can lead to disaster for the elder and the beneficiaries of their estate or trust.

When someone calls me with a case of disinheritance, Alzheimer's or dementia frequently play a role in the story. I gather information on what was happening when the amendment to a will or trust was made. I want to know about the elderly parent's cognitive ability at that point in time. Often we'll consult with a psychiatrist who specializes in gerontology - an expert who can look at the decedent's medical records and identify the potential causes of degeneration of cognitive ability. Sometimes the psychiatrist may not find incapacity because a specific instance couldn't be documented. A more thorough forensic analysis might be necessary, and that can be a drawn-out, expensive process.

That said, if someone disinherits their relative in the last few years of their life, it doesn't always point to cognitive decline or Alzheimer's. But it is fair to say that Alzheimer's, dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment fundamentally compromise an elder's decision-making capability. Like it or not, that's just the truth.

As an estate and trust litigation attorney, I work to identify reasonable causes of disinheritance or lost inheritance and represent my clients to the best of my ability. With that objective in mind, the first question I seek an answer for is whether the decedent was cognitively impaired. Figuring this out tends to be easier when I doctor has already made a diagnosis, but a medical label showing incapacity doesn't prove or resolve a case on its own.

If you would like a free digital copy of Alzheimer's, Widowed Stepmothers & Estate Crimes, email us at [email protected] I'm happy to share this book on a very important topic.

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