A growing “epidemic” of dementia

Leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries are met last week in London for a special summit on a rapidly growing problem: dementia. Dementia is a medical disorder affecting cognitive function. It includes Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), fronto-temporal dementia, and a variety of others that impact patient memory, thinking, and even behavior.

As reported by Reuters recently, the disorder currently affects an estimated 44 million people worldwide, but health care experts expect that number to more than triple to 135 million people by 2050. G8 leaders are now meeting to discuss the rapidly growing costs associated with the disease. Treatment costs already exceed more than $600 billion, or about 1.0% of global GDP. Costs the G8 likely won’t be talking about though are the growing legal expenses associated with trying to enforce or defend estate plans of dementia patients.

A diagnosis of dementia can cause significant legal problems. Even a hint of incapacity makes an estate plan vulnerable to court challenge, threatening the decedent’s intended distributions and forcing his or her family to go through stressful and often expensive litigation.

With dementia on the rise, it’s now more important than ever to make sure you have a clear and effective estate plan in place. If possible, you should put a final plan in place before capacity becomes an issue. If it’s too late for that though, there are still things you can do; just be sure to consult a litigation attorney as part of the planning process. Acting now could save you and your family a great deal of heartache (and money) down the road.

Dementia Epidemic: 65 Million by the Year 2030

A Canadian trusts and estate attorney, Megan F. Connolly, identified an alarming statistic in her blog from Alzheimer’s Disease International: An estimated 35.6-million people worldwide suffer from dementia and by 2030, the number is expected to double to more than 65.7-million.

The Globe and Mail reports the astounding cost of medial care includes $96-billion in direct medical care, $255-billion for residential care such as nursing homes, and $253-billion in unpaid labour by family caregivers and that by 2030, total costs will surpass $1.1-trillion annually.

Of course, the medial expense is only part of the tremendous burden, as the toll upon the victims and their families is without measure. 

The legal challenges caused by this growing population will only increase, as predators await their opportunity to take from the unprotected.  (See prior Wealthlawblog.com postings.)   

Prepare yourself and prepare those that you love.  Put finances in order.  Make your contingency plans.  Call your estate planning attorney.