Elder Law Implications of Genetic Testing

December 31, 2015 Nick Esterbauer Capacity, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Power of Attorney, Wills Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

I recently read an article by Gregory Wilcox and Rachel Koff, which was published in the fall 2015 edition of the Journal for the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, that explores the use of genetic testing and counselling within the context of elder law.

The article describes the three uses of genetic testing as disease diagnosis, determining carrier status, and predictive testing.  Historically, genetic counsellors were required to rely upon basic Mendelian genetics that did not often reveal whether someone would eventually suffer from a certain delayed-onset disease. Because of recent developments, however, science now allows accuracy in determining whether a person will suffer (or be more likely to suffer) from a variety of medical conditions.  For example, the development of breast and ovarian cancer has been linked to the BRCA1 gene mutation, which can be tested for and discovered in time for adjuvant medical intervention.

Genetic testing is now capable of revealing whether a person may be especially susceptible to conditions that are often associated with aging, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.  However, to date, there is limited data confirming that individuals who are determined to be at a higher risk of developing a disease like Alzheimer’s actually do receive an eventual diagnosis at higher rates than the general population.  As a result of learning that one is at a higher-than-average risk of developing such a condition, lifestyle changes may be made in an effort to reduce the chances that an increased genetic risk is eventually expressed through the onset of the disease.

Perceived risk of developing a disease that may compromise mental capacity or shorten life expectancy may serve as motivation to obtain assistance in creating comprehensive incapacity and estate plans at an earlier life stage than these considerations might otherwise be made.  As the year ends, no matter current health status or perceived risk of developing certain diseases in the future, it is important to take the time to ensure that incapacity and estate plans are put into place and to keep those plans updated following any material change in family situation.

Happy New Year!

Nick Esterbauer

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
 

CONNECT WITH US

TRY HULL E-STATE PLANNER SOFTWARE

Hull e-State Planner is a comprehensive estate planning software designed to make the estate planning process simple, efficient and client friendly.

Try it here!

CATEGORIES

ARCHIVES

TWITTER WIDGET

  • Today's article takes a look into the case law on the doctrine of righteousness. "The Doctrine of Righteousness an… https://t.co/PcgzxTD7UB
  • Today’s article unpacks the Long-Term Care Covid-19 Commission's final report. "Shocking Findings Revealed by the… https://t.co/WL16OixmEJ
  • Today's article explores section 4 of Ontario's Limitations Act, and reviews some of the cases that have interprete… https://t.co/fdjSPmMuMT
  • Today's article discusses the illusory truth effect, why it happens, and how to avoid it. Beware of the Illusory T… https://t.co/cQnVoV7vGm
  • To all the mothers out there, thank you for everything you do! From everyone here at Hull & Hull, we wish you a Hap… https://t.co/kiTeLtAsoY
  • Estate planning around U.S. citizenship: Step one, confirm status https://t.co/4dOceT2rR7 https://t.co/5AjNPMpHUW