When a loved one begins to age, one of the risks is that they could develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia isn’t a specific disease, but it is a condition that can negatively impact a patient’s life.

If your loved one had dementia while planning their estate, there is good reason to be concerned. This condition, along with Alzheimer’s and others, makes it harder for people to make good decisions based on the facts. They may be forgetful or make sudden decisions unaware of their impact. If they had dementia or Alzheimer’s disease while making decisions about their estate plan or will, they may have made mistakes or changes that you can fight in court.

How can you recognize dementia and prove it to the court?

Dementia is actually a term referring to symptoms associated with a loss in memory or the decrease in thinking skills. These losses have to be significant enough to reduce the person’s abilities or to stop them from actively performing everyday activities. In around 60 to 80 percent of cases, Alzheimer’s disease is the case of dementia.

In other cases, vascular dementia may be the cause of memory loss. This is usually a result of a serious health condition, like a stroke. Other potential causes of dementia include vitamin deficiencies and thyroid problems. The good news about those causes are that they are reversible.

To recognize the symptoms of dementia, you should look for:

  • Memory loss
  • Poor reasoning or judgment
  • A loss of visual perception
  • Poor language use or communication
  • A loss of the ability to focus or pay attention

Dementia is progressive in most cases. That means that the symptoms might start out slowly. For example, a person might forget their keys or struggle to remember what they were supposed to be doing. This often worsens to the point that a person has trouble remembering appointments, being able to navigate their neighborhood or remembering the names or faces of those they love.

If you noticed this during your loved one’s life, then you likely took them to their medical provider. If there is a diagnosis of dementia or a date of incapacity, then you should provide that to the court during any dispute. The judge needs to be aware that there was a potential for your relative to be taken advantage of or to make decisions out of confusion. In that case, they may turn to older wills or plans to determine how to distribute assets.