Dementia & Guns: A Deadly Combination

01.12.2022 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

There is a side to gun ownership that is not often discussed: what happens when a gun owner is no longer capable of safely owning or using his or her guns?

It is tragic when an individual with dementia ends up shooting a loved one.

Individuals who develop dementia frequently experience hallucinations or have times where they do not recognize the people around them.  This can be especially problematic if the individual has access to guns.  The individual may incorrectly believe someone they know is a stranger and that he or she needs to defend themselves.  It is tragic when such an individual ends up shooting a loved one.  In West Virginia, a grandfather with dementia thought he saw intruders entering his home, so he grabbed his Glock that he kept under his pillow and shot his wife and granddaughter.  The granddaughter was able to call for help, but the grandmother did not survive. 

Unfortunately, this can and does happen not only in other states but also right here in Minnesota. For families of loved ones with dementia, we commonly grapple with the question of when to take the car away.  Families should also discuss when the guns should be removed from the home or stored in a secure location for safety purposes.  This is a difficult conversation and the loved one may be in the denial stage of dementia.  In situations like this, families may need to involve the courts to initiate a proceeding to have the individual’s guns confiscated. 

Decide what to do with your firearms.

To prevent court intervention, families should engage in the conversations early on in an individual’s diagnosis so that the individual can be involved in deciding what to do with the firearms, to whom the firearms should go after they pass, or whether to voluntarily give them up.  For caretakers and family members, it is best to get this plan in writing and signed by the person when there is a voluntary relinquishment of the firearms.  This will be helpful in the future should the individual forget about the arrangement and make accusations that someone stole the guns.

Families may be forced to deal with this situation before they can bring caregivers or home health into the home.  Such agencies have policies that require that any firearms or weapons in the home be removed before their employees can come to the home.  By having a plan in place and removing the guns before there is a need for home health care or in-home assistance, families can avoid additional stress. 

If your family has a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia, be sure to speak with physicians, elder law attorneys, or care coordinators to help you understand the ins and outs of what is to come. 

Our elder law concierge service at Henningson & Snoxell provides family with a personal touch to help navigate the chaos that comes with a loved one with a dementia diagnosis. Please reach out to see how we can help you and your family through this challenging time.


Rachell L. Henning

Rachell Henning is an Elder Law attorney that brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to her practice.  From an early age, Rachell has been dedicated to assisting elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities to live their lives to the fullest.

Elder Law | Estate Planning | Family Law | Rachell Henning

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This is why we do what we do! (a testimonial from a client)

06.02.2021 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Experience working with Rachell Henning

We recently received a heartwarming letter from a client regarding her experience working with Elder Law Attorney Rachell Henning:

“I need to share with you my experience working with Lawyer Extraordinaire, Rachell Henning.

“I came upon your firm (recommended through one of my dementia list servs), and immediately wrote to you. Rachell Henning responded to that email the very next day, and I feel that I was being watched over from above, because there is no doubt in my mind that the perfect lawyer was give to me to help me through the emergencies of the past few months. She works tirelessly, and has been there for every single question I have had. Her quick responses are not something I’m used to!

“Rachell Henning has truly been a gift to our family. She has worked so hard to learn all the various aspects of my brother’s diagnosis, along with the multiple layers involved in getting him the care he needs. She was also extremely helpful in finding a person to serve as my brother’s emergency guardian.

“The amount of stress that I was feeling trying to do all of this care myself for over two years, has started to melt away, and I feel unbelievably lucky that the email came to me recommending your firm, and having Ms. Henning reach out to me. She has been everything, and more, that I ever hoped to have in a lawyer!”


Rachell L. Henning

As an associate at Henningson & Snoxell, Rachell Henning brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to her practice as an elder law attorney.  From an early age, Rachell has been dedicated to assisting elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities to live their lives to the fullest. Read more about Rachell.

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When Should You Start Planning for Long-Term Care?

04.07.2021 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Planning for long-term care is an emotional and overwhelming task.  It is difficult to accept aging and even more difficult to accept that at some point in our lives we will be dependent on others for help doing things we find easy to do today.  For most of us, talking about death is difficult, but I have found that talking about long-term care is even more taboo.  For many of our elderly loved ones, mine included, their biggest fear is being “thrown into a nursing home.” 

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Two Important Steps to Take When Your Child Turns 18

03.12.2021 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Two important steps to take whey your child turns 18

It is the eve of your child’s 18th birthday, and you are thinking about all the exciting things that lie ahead—high school graduation, going off to college, that first job, or perhaps even planning a wedding. At Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. we recommend you take a few minutes to think about what happens, legally, to your relationship with your child the minute your child turns 18.

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What is Medical Assistance?

06.11.2020 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

What is Medical Assistance?

In Minnesota, Medicaid is called “Medical Assistance” or “MA”.  Under that umbrella, there are several different programs, but the one that we most often work with at Henningson & Snoxell is Medical Assistance for Long-Term Care Services (MA-LTC).  

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Henningson & Snoxell, LTD. Welcomes Attorney Rachell L. Henning to the Firm

06.05.2020 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

New Attorney Rachell L. Henning

Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. is pleased to welcome Attorney Rachell Henning to the firm. Rachell is a member of the firm’s individual legal services department, with primary practice areas in Conservatorships, Guardianships,  Disability Law, and other areas of Elder Law.

Rachell managed a residential home for individuals with disabilities early in her career. While there, she advocated for the people she served. She worked closely with families and staff to ensure the residents received proper services. She worked alongside county financial workers, social workers, and others who handled eligibility decisions surrounding Medical Assistance and other state-run programs. Rachell built relationships with those individuals to understand the administrative end, and she is able to use this experience to advocate for her clients.

While attending law school, Rachell worked full-time as a Human Resource and Office Administrator at one of the largest law firms in South Dakota. She gained invaluable experience managing benefits, working with insurance companies, and assisting employees of all ages. She especially enjoyed working with older employees as they planned their retirement, helping them navigate the many complex decisions that retirement entailed.

Rachell is a member in good standing with the Minnesota State Bar Association. We are so happy to have Rachell as a member of our talented team of attorneys, each of whom focuses on a specific area of law and is committed to honest and effective legal counsel and representation.

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