personal property

It is not uncommon the hear stories of family members fighting over their deceased relative’s personal property. Brother Joe wants the tool collection, but so does sister Jill….which niece or nephew, aunt, uncle, cousin gets the heirloom porcelain vase collection, or items of jewelry or family pictures, items of clothing or the whatever else that had been in possession of the deceased. These feuds can regrettably lead to family members no longer speaking to one another. All this can be avoided with some simple planning.

If there are items of significant value, either monetarily or emotionally, they can be distributed within an individual’s Last Will and Testament by way of a specific bequest and these bequests are binding upon the estate executor to carry out.

As another option, one that is not legally binding, but more of an emotional commitment, the individual can create a list of personal items to be given to specific persons. With the list in hand, family members might be less inclined to argue and be more accepting of the wishes of the deceased.

However, even with the best of planning, some families just can’t get along or agree on anything. And when that happens the fiduciary will take whatever action that in their opinion best complies with the intent of the deceased. And when all else fails, the matter will be decided in probate court.

Estate Planning for Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia are incredibly disruptive diseases. They can disrupt the everyday abilities of the person afflicted, they can disrupt the normalcy in their family, and they can disrupt their ability to plan for the future. If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with a form of Dementia, there are many concerns you’ll have about what affects this disease will have.

One such concern may be whether Alzheimer’s Disease would impede the ability to plan ahead for end of life and estate distribution decisions. Can an estate plan still be created? Can it be amended to reflect this diagnosis? Can you decide who’s going to have the right to make medical decisions for you when you no longer can? How can you be sure that your plans won’t go missing or end up in the wrong hands?

In addition to these concerns, with increasing research and awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease, you may be aware that you are at a high risk for being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. If so, you may also be wondering what steps you can take in advance to create an estate plan that will cover what will happen if you are diagnosed with the disease at some point in the future.

Can I create or update an estate plan after I’ve been diagnosed with a form of Dementia?

If you’ve been diagnosed with a form of Dementia, you should start the process of creating and updating estate plans as soon as possible. It’s necessary that you are still of the right mental ability to authorize these decisions, and you’re going to want to make these decisions before the disease progresses too far. You’ll need to have an updated Will, Power of Attorney, Living Will, designation of conservatorship, and updated HIPPA forms soon after your diagnosis.

Can I create a plan that is specific to my needs related to my diagnosis? What would a plan like this look like?

By meeting with an estate planning attorney, they can discuss with you what specific measures should be taken to protect your estate.

It’s highly likely that a person who has Alzheimer’s Disease will need convalescent care. Title XIX of the Social Security Act of 1935 will pay for your convalescent and at home care. You’ll need to meet with an attorney who’s experienced in helping clients apply for Title XIX assistance. This process needs months of planning, so you’ll need to start this process right away.

Another concern with convalescent care is making sure that you don’t lose all of your estate’s assets. If you meet with an experienced estate planning attorney, they can develop a method to protect your assets through gifting and the creation of trusts. This process will look slightly different in each state.

If I’m at a high risk for Dementia, can I create an estate plan that protects my wishes in case I am diagnosed with the disease in the future?

If you know that you’re at a high risk of having Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of Dementia, it would be an excellent idea to begin estate planning before you’re diagnosed. You should consider how you can create protections, like those stated above before you are diagnosed.

Is there anything I should do after my estate plan has been created?

There are two very important things to do once you’ve created your estate plan. Both of these steps are important for anyone who has an estate plan, but even more so to persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.

The first step to take is to make sure that your documents are stored in safe, secure locations that you and those people you trust have access to. You don’t want to lose these documents, and you want to make sure that the people you trust have access to them as needed. At The Prue Law Group, P.C., we always make sure that you sign multiple original documents. This ensures that there are enough originals for anyone who needs them, and we also keep an original in our office for safe keeping.

The second important step to take is to make sure that you’re meeting with your attorney regularly to review and revise estate plans. At The Prue Law Group, P.C., it’s our policy to meet with clients every three years to review documents. Keep in mind, you can always meet with an attorney more often than that, and an attorney should only let someone authorize a document if they are of sound mind.


The Prue Law Group, P.C. understands how difficult a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease can be, and we would like to urge you to donate either your time or money to the Alzheimer’s Association.

For more information on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, visit www.alz.org.


For more information about The Prue Law Group, P.C. and our services, please visit us online or call (860) 423-9231 weekdays between 9 am – 5 pm EST.

The answer to that is anything you own either in your name alone, with someone else in survivorship, or in your name but with a designated beneficiary is all part of your estate. That bank account in only your name, your house that is owned with your spouse or a life insurance policy or retirement account that you own but that will pass to a designated beneficiary are all your assets for estate planning purposes and eventually probate. That is the easy part to understand.

More confusing is what goes through probate and how. The only assets that pass through probate are those assets in your name alone. Any assets other than those that are solely owned must be reported for tax purposes—they go directly to 1) the survivor if owned in survivorship, such as the house mentioned above, or 2) the designated beneficiary like your life insurances or IRA’s. In an estate plan, assets in your name alone get distributed under your will. For example, an estate where the deceased had $2.8 million in assets but only $20,000 as solely owned property, only the $20,000 goes through probate to be distributed through the will. The remainder had designated beneficiaries or were owned in survivorship and those assets are reported for tax purposes only.

Now is the time to compile an inventory of all assets in your name alone, as well as those assets that will go directly to a beneficiary or survivor. Then with that inventory on hand, you can make decisions regarding to whom you want to leave those assets to and how they will be handled in probate. All this needs to be taken into account when creating your estate plan and a well developed estate plan will make the probate process easier to navigate.