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What Can NFL Players Teach Clients About Dementia?

What Can NFL Players Teach Clients About Dementia?

The rest of us can learn a thing or two from the experience of America's gladiators.

Obviously you have been following the whole "concussion" issue and the fallout therefrom. 

Perhaps you saw the film titled "Concussion" released in 2015?

Regardless, this is a very real problem and concern to those who get their "bells rung" as an occupational hazard.

That noted, the rest of us can learn a thing or two from the experience of America's gladiators.

Enter a recent article in the Washington Post titled “Today’s NFL players should look hard at Sam Huff’s case; they could be next.”

As the article notes, you should prepare for a time when you might become incapacitated.


Because a judge could even end up deciding where you live if you fail to plan appropriately.

For its part, the NFL estimates that a player has about a 30% chance of contracting Alzheimer’s or dementia.

In other words, of the 1,600 players in the NFL each season, more than 500 will contract Alzheimer's or some form of dementia.


While players receive literature from the NFL Players Association about concussions and advice from agents and lawyers about estate planning, players rarely see the real picture of how people will treat you once stricken with a brain disease.

How about you?

Do you have a game plan to appoint the decision-makers of your own choosing if you fall prey to a horrible brain diseases?

Sam_HuffTake the case of Sam Huff as an object lesson.

Mr. Huff was a Hall of Fame linebacker who was a very successful businessman after football.

He was a VP at Marriott and enjoyed thoroughbred horse breeding.

Mr. Huff lived on his horse farm in Middleburg, Virginia, for some 30 years with his partner Carol Holden until he was diagnosed with dementia in 2012.

After that diagnosis a "legal" tug-of-war ensued between Carol and Mr. Huff’s daughter Catherine.

The latter is seeking legal authority to make her father's decisions for him.

Consequently, Carol filed an emergency petition seeking to return him to his home and to her guardianship.

There is a court hearing scheduled to decide who should be responsible for Mr. Huff.

Whether you play on Sunday or watch on Sunday, the original article had the following recommendations to protect your personal autonomy:

Find a lawyer with experience in estate planning for Alzheimer’s and dementia, then follow his or her advice.

You need an attorney experienced in this area of law.


Planning for a potential future Alzheimer’s or dementia requires a very thorough interdisciplinary legal knowledge, as well as insight into medical (and criminal) scenarios.

An experienced attorney can educate and advise you regarding why you should (or should not) give your child, spouse or partner durable power of attorney without some type of neutral oversight.

Do not create family problems. Consider appointing an independent third party “protector.”

This party 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 notion, but it helps to address and thwart potential financial abuse.

In short, a protector can help ensure any actions taken are in your best interests.

Declare legally that if there are any changes to your estate plan after your diagnosis, there needs to be a medical evaluation to confirm whether it is your decision.

Changes can be be manipulations in disguise, especially if your trustee or power-of-attorney is also a beneficiary.

Legally provide that a geriatric care social worker be employed to facilitate your care.

All of the potential agencies, facilities, and services can create confusion and frustration for family members just 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 accomplish that while living with Alzheimer's or dementia ... and set aside the money now to pay your way later.

On the other hand, you might want to live in a facility.

If yes, be sure your estate plan provides that the location has a good nurse-to-patient ratio and is specifically trained Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

As Mr. Huff’s situation demonstrates, there is no such thing as a foolproof solution.

Nevertheless, it is far better to engage in appropriate planning now rather than leaving such important matters to chance (or litigation) later. 

Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.

For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.

Reference: Washington Post (Sept. 15, 2016) “Today’s NFL players should look hard at Sam Huff’s case; they could be next”

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