What are Considerations for Specific Illnesses When Estate Planning in Florida?
5 min read

What are Considerations for Specific Illnesses When Estate Planning in Florida?

How do I create a specific Will in Florida? In this article, we'll dive into creating an Estate Plan in Florida with considerations for specific illnesses. Keep reading to learn more!

Share this article:

In 2021, Florida was second only to California in the number of senior residents over age 65. Estate planning is a vital process for people of all ages, but it takes on added significance as people grow older, especially when facing specific illnesses that may impact their well-being and capacity to make decisions. In Florida, like many other states, the effects of certain illnesses on estate planning and probate processes can be complex and require careful consideration. In this article, we will explore the unique challenges and considerations for elderly people in Florida who are dealing with specific illnesses. 

Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

Alzheimer's disease and various forms of dementia present significant challenges for estate planning and probate. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and degenerative brain disorder that primarily affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for a decline in cognitive ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease accounts for the majority of dementia cases.

Here are some key characteristics and aspects of Alzheimer's disease:

  • Memory Impairment: One of the hallmark features of Alzheimer's disease is memory loss, particularly in the early stages. Individuals may have difficulty remembering recent events, names of people, places, or common objects.

  • Progressive Decline: Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, meaning that symptoms worsen over time. As it advances, individuals may struggle with communication, problem-solving, and daily tasks.

  • Cognitive Decline: Beyond memory loss, Alzheimer's affects other cognitive functions. This can include difficulties with language (finding words), spatial orientation (getting lost in familiar places), and impaired reasoning or judgment.

  • Behavioral Changes: Alzheimer's disease can lead to changes in behavior and personality. Individuals may become agitated, irritable, anxious, or exhibit changes in mood and social interactions.

These changes can have an impact on how a person is able to write their own estate plans. Here are some issues to consider if you or someone you love has Alzheimer's or dementia:

  • Capacity Issues: People with advanced dementia may lack the legal capacity to create or modify estate planning documents like Wills or Trusts. It's crucial to address these matters early when the person still has the mental capacity to make informed decisions.

  • Guardianship: If a person with dementia does not have adequate estate planning documents in place, it may become necessary to initiate guardianship proceedings in Florida. This process involves the appointment of a guardian to make financial and healthcare decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person. It's better to make those decisions before you need a guardian. 

  • Financial Exploitation: Dementia can make people vulnerable to financial exploitation. Adequate estate planning, including the appointment of a trustworthy Power of Attorney and the creation of a Living Will, can help protect their assets and healthcare decisions.

  • Medicaid Planning: For individuals with dementia who may need long-term care, Medicaid planning strategies should be considered to manage healthcare expenses without depleting their estate entirely.

Parkinson's Disease and Physical Disabilities

Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that primarily affects movement and motor function. It is characterized by the gradual loss of specific brain cells responsible for producing a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine plays a crucial role in coordinating muscle movements, and its deficiency leads to the motor symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease.

  • Motor Difficulties: People who have Parkinson's disease begin to lose control over their motor system, which manifests in difficulty moving, shaking, rigidity, postural instability, and bradykinesia. 

  • Progressive Nature: Parkinson's disease is progressive, meaning that symptoms worsen over time. In the early stages, symptoms may be mild and subtle, but they tend to become more pronounced and disabling as the disease advances.

  • Non-Motor Symptoms: While Parkinson's disease is primarily associated with motor symptoms, it can also involve non-motor symptoms. These may include changes in mood (such as depression and anxiety), cognitive changes (such as difficulty with memory and thinking), sleep disturbances, and autonomic dysfunction (problems with blood pressure, digestion, and other automatic bodily functions).

Some aspects of Parkinson's disease impact the estate planning process:

  • Accessibility: Individuals with physical disabilities may face challenges accessing legal offices. That's why working with remote notaries and drafting documents using online estate planning platforms is so helpful to people with physical disabilities. 

  • Financial Management: Estate planning should address how financial management will be handled in the event of deteriorating physical health. Appointing a Financial Power of Attorney is crucial for managing financial affairs effectively.

  • Healthcare Preferences: Individuals should clearly outline their healthcare preferences in a Living Will, especially if Parkinson's disease progresses to a point where they can no longer communicate their choices effectively.

Cancer and Prolonged Medical Treatments

Cancer and prolonged medical treatments can lead to extensive healthcare expenses and necessitate careful financial planning. Here are some considerations when drafting estate planning documents:

  • Healthcare Directives: Consider having comprehensive healthcare directives, including a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney, to guide medical decisions and ensure that chosen representatives can advocate effectively.

  • Financial Planning: Review financial resources and consider long-term care insurance, Medicaid planning, and asset protection strategies to address the financial burden of ongoing medical treatments.

  • Beneficiary Designations: Ensure that beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and life insurance policies are up to date and reflect current wishes.

Tips for Estate Planning with Illnesses

Elderly people in Florida facing illnesses may also encounter unique estate planning and probate considerations. Here are some tips for people who might be struggling with their health. 

  • End-of-Life Decisions: These individuals should document their end-of-life preferences in a Living Will, specifying their desires regarding life-sustaining treatments and interventions.

  • Beneficiary Designations: Review and update beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets to ensure they align with current wishes.

Efficient Probate Planning: Florida offers a streamlined probate process for small estates (referred to as "Summary Administration") and other alternatives to traditional probate. Understanding these options can simplify the estate settlement process. 

Proactive Estate Planning for Elderly People

Estate planning and probate processes in Florida can be complex, especially for elderly people who are struggling with illness. Addressing these unique challenges requires proactive planning and consideration of how your condition impacts your health and finances. If you have one of the conditions discussed above, the sooner you make informed decisions, the better. 


Scroll Down
Share this article:
Let’s begin! First, what’s your name?

Your name that’s stated on your driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport.