A recent Washington Post article, entitled “Today’s NFL players should look hard at Sam Huff’s case; they could be next,” says you should prepare for a time when you might become incapacitated as a result of your career. Fail to make proper plans and a judge could end up determining where you live.
The NFL estimates that a player has about a 30% chance of contracting Alzheimer’s or dementia. Players receive literature from the NFL Players Association about concussions and advice from agents and lawyers about estate-planning, but they rarely see the real picture of how people will treat you with a stigmatizing brain disease.
You need to make a game plan, or a judge will decide if you’ve been abused, neglected or exploited. Enter Sam Huff, who’s a Hall of Fame linebacker who was very successful after football. He was a VP at Marriott and enjoyed thoroughbred horse breeding. He lived on his horse farm in Middleburg, Va., for 30 years with his partner, Carol Holden, until 2012 when dementia was diagnosed.
Huff’s daughter, Catherine, is seeking legal power to make all of Huff’s life and health-care decisions for him. Carol filed an emergency petition seeking to return him to his home and to her guardianship. There’s a court hearing scheduled.
Can you believe that of the 1,600 players in the NFL each season, more than 500 will contract some form of dementia. Here's a suggested blueprint for how to protect yourself, which may be just as important as wearing a helmet in action.
Here is some advice from the article whether you played on Sunday or caught the games on television:
Find a lawyer with experience in estate planning for Alzheimer’s and heed his or her advice. You need a specialist because Alzheimer’s planning requires a very thorough interdisciplinary legal knowledge, as well as insight into medical and criminal scenarios. An attorney experienced with dementia issues can educate you on why you shouldn’t give your child or spouse durable power of attorney without some type of neutral oversight.
Don’t create family problems. Appoint an independent third party “protector.” This can be a valued friend who has sound judgment and can monitor the conduct of the trustee over your trust and the attorney in fact under your financial power of attorney. This is a pretty new idea, but it helps to address potential financial abuse. A protector can make sure that any actions are in your best interests.
Declare legally that if there’s any change to your estate plan after your diagnosis, there needs to be a medical evaluation to ensure it’s your decision. Changes can be manipulations, especially if your power-of-attorney is also a beneficiary.
Legally provide that a geriatric care social worker be employed to facilitate your care. All of the agencies, facilities, and services create confusion and frustration for family members trying to help. But a geriatric care expert has the knowledge, social service resources, and experience to take care of living arrangements and quality care, which can ease the strain on the family.
Determine your wishes and provide for them. If you really want to live at home, look into how to do so with dementia and set aside the money. You might decide you want to live in a facility. Be sure you state in your estate plan that the location has a good nurse-to-patient ratio and specifically trained Alzheimer’s care.
While Huff’s situation shows there’s no such thing as a foolproof solution, you can start by working with a credible dementia-knowledgeable attorney.
Reference: Washington Post (Sept. 15, 2016) “Today’s NFL players should look hard at Sam Huff’s case; they could be next”