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Planning ahead for dementia, capacity loss is important

When people think of estate planning, they are usually considering what will happen when they pass away. But, there are other scenarios that Ontario planners must prepare for as well. One of these is dementia, which is a relatively common situation among aging Canadians. Deciding who can make decisions in the case that the planner lacks the capacity to do so is important for all who are preparing for the future.

It can be difficult for family members to accept that their loved one has dementia and may need additional support to manage life as he or she ages. Having a clear plan for this scenario can make what is often a tense and stressful time a bit easier to manage. Powers of attorney, centralized financial documents and advance communication with loved ones can make the path forward a bit clearer.

Even with a lot of planning, capacity issues can still present challenges. These challenges can be financial, interpersonal, or even legal. For example, the person left in charge of health care or personal care options may not have the time to manage these affairs. Conflict among family members or plans that do not pan out as expected can also be a factor; for example, a power of attorney who dies or is unable to manage affairs.

Problems related to guardianship and capacity may be stressful, but they are not uncommon. Dementia is a reality for 40% of Canadians over 65, so planning ahead is crucial. Additionally, getting legal support from an Ontario estate lawyer should any processes, conflict or lack of clarity arise can help make this smoother for all involved.

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