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Medical articles abound that feature data discussing the known issues and available research with regard to the often devastating cognitive issue known as "dementia." Many of these articles include a list of warning signs, such as inability to remember previous events in life, getting lost while traveling in familiar surroundings or losing track of time and money. In addition to thinking ahead about the possibility of the onset of dementia in one's personal life or that of a loved one, Maryland residents might find it prudent to consider an estate plan as a means of protecting assets before any presentation of symptoms of cognitive demise sets in.

Since there are various levels of dementia, ranging from mild to severe, the time to think about long-range finances, powers of attorney or living wills is when one has full control over one's cognitive abilities. In planning one's estate, it is important to take into account the possibility of one's own future mental incapacity. Data published in 2014 estimates that more than 5 million Americans over age 65 suffer from symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease, a well-known neurological condition.

Due to an increase in life expectancy, that number is projected to triple by 2050. Certain legal documents would allow one to appoint another person to make financial or medical decisions should one become incapable of doing so. Many times, people choose a spouse, an adult child or a trusted friend for this purpose.

There are Maryland attorneys who have experience in helping someone draft an estate plan, as well as the myriad of issues that often pertain to a legal undertaking of this sort. Because the mental decline of a loved one often involves tremendous effort in caring for him or her, as well as emotional stress, and the potential for one's own cognitive decline suggests that one would no longer be able to make sound financial decisions, it is best to address these issues early on in life while one is still mentally sound. Therefore, it might be beneficial to seek legal consultation in order to ensure that one is aware of all potential decisions and available options with regard to planning one's estate.

Source: palisadeshudson.com, "Dealing With A Loved One's Cognitive Decline", Shomari D. Hearn, Jan. 26, 2015

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