Question: My aunt is suffering from dementia and I know there are firearms in the house. I’m not comfortable with the firearms in the house for obvious reasons. How do I deal with these weapons?
Answer: Studies have shown that nearly half of all adults aged 65 years or older either own a gun or live in a household with someone who does.
For people with dementia, the risk for suicide increases and firearms are the most common method of suicide for people with dementia. Individuals suffering from dementia and who have guns may put family members or caregivers at risk if the person gets confused about their identities. In 2018, a Kaiser Health News report looked at five years of records and found over 100 cases with people with dementia using guns to kill or injure themselves or others.
When a person is recently diagnosed with dementia, there needs to be a conversation about gun ownership. An elder law attorney can assist with a plan, that is, a plan to remove the guns and figure out where the guns can be removed to. A gun trust is one legal document that outlines the process.
An option to consider is to lock up the guns in a safe and remove the ammunition (or at least separate the two). I prefer to remove the guns from the house altogether. If a family member can take the guns out of the house that may be a good option. Most states have rules about the transfer of the ownership of firearms.
Comment: May not be a bad idea to also take a look at the kitchen knives!
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Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.
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