If you are a football fan in Missouri, you no doubt know Marty Schottenheimer, the former NFL head coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. He served in that honored position for 10 years before retiring. Sadly, Schottenheimer was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s about five years ago.
The renowned career of Marty Schottenheimer
Schottenheimer began his NFL coaching career in 1980, when he was hired as the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns and then became head coach in 1984. He stayed with the Browns until 1988. Then from 1989 until 1998, he served as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, amassing three division titles, seven trips to the playoffs and an AFC Championship game in 1993. He resigned as the Chiefs head coach in 1999. Schottenheimer then went on to coach the Washington Redskins and the San Diego Chargers.
Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease
About five years ago, Schottenheimer was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a brain condition that results in a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. Memory loss that disrupts daily life is a typical symptom of Alzheimer’s and another forms of dementia. Only about 5 percent of individuals who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s begin to develop symptoms before the age of 65. That means approximately 200,000 Americans have been diagnosed with the early-onset form of the disease.
According to his wife, Schottenheimer is in the best of health, he just has memory issues at times, often asking the same question repeatedly. He still remembers people and faces, though.
Schottenheimer recently honored
Now 73-years-old, Schottenheimer was recently honored at the Cleveland Browns’ celebration of their 30th anniversary. After four-and-a-half relatively successful years in Cleveland, Schottenheimer resigned as the Browns coach after the 1988 season after a “power struggle” with owner Art Modell. The Browns reached the playoffs in each of Schottenheimer’s four seasons as coach, which was a streak no other coach has been able to accomplish in Cleveland during the Super Bowl era. Schottenheimer served 21 seasons total as an NFL head coach. He had a great record but never reached the Super Bowl.
The term capacity is legally defined as the ability to comprehend the consequences of certain legal proceedings, including entering into contracts or signing legal documents. Incapacity can be caused by either a physical or mental condition, whether temporary or permanent. That would include Alzheimer’s disease.
When it comes to estate planning matters, incapacity more often refers to the inability of an individual to manage his or her own personal matters and to make important legal decisions on their own. Without a proper estate plan that adequately addresses incapacity issues, you could end up being appointed a court-supervised conservator or guardian to assist with your personal and financial affairs.
Some of the common tools typically used for incapacity planning
Two of the most common legal documents used in planning for incapacity are Health Care Powers of Attorney and Financial Powers of Attorney. The Advance Medical Directive gives you the opportunity to appoint a representative and give that person the authority to make decisions regarding your medical care and treatment, in the event you are unable to make those decisions yourself. Health Care Powers of Attorney are typically drafted so that they will become effective even in cases of temporary incapacity. While a Financial Power of Attorney does nearly the same thing, the person you choose to serve as your attorney-in-fact will have the ability to manage your financial affairs instead of your health care.
You may want to create a durable power of attorney
One great benefit of creating a durable power of attorney is the ability to eliminate confusion and ambiguity with regard to how your personal affairs need to be handled. A well-drafted durable power of attorney can help you avoid the common family disagreements about how your financial and healthcare decisions should be made.
In reality, when a loved one becomes legally incompetent, their family members don’t need to spend time arguing over decisions about medical treatment or managing finances. Instead, there needs to be someone already in place and authorized to step in and make the necessary decisions. If you plan ahead with a durable power of attorney, you can avoid most of those unnecessary disputes.
Join us for a FREE workshop! If you have questions regarding durable powers of attorney, or any other incapacity planning matters, contact Gaughan & Connealy for a consultation either online or by calling us at (816) 974-3030.