Because of the debilitating nature of Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia on a loved one’s ability to make sound financial decisions, the sooner you can get financial matters in order the better. The Statesville Record & Landmark’s recent article entitled “Financial steps to take when dealing with Alzheimer’s” lists four important steps to take:
Keep an eye out for signs of unusual financial activity. Early signs of cognitive challenges for a senior include difficulty paying a proper amount for an item, leaving bills unpaid. or making strange purchases. If you see signs of a loss in judgment related to financial matters, additional action may be required.
Identify and name a power of attorney. Many people are hesitant to cede control of their personal finances to another. Therefore, have an honest discussion with your loved ones and help them appreciate the importance of having a trusted person in a position to look out for their interests. One person should be designated as financial power-of-attorney, who is authorized to sign checks, pay bills and help keep an eye on the finances of the affected persons.
Ask an experienced estate planning attorney about helping you draft this important document.
Examine the costs of care and how it will be covered. A primary concern is to determine a strategy for how your loved one will be cared for, especially if their cognitive abilities deteriorate.
You will need to be able to determine whether specialized care will be needed, either in the home or in a nursing or assisted living facility. If the answer is yes, you’ll need to determine if there are resources or long-term care insurance policies in place to help deal with those costs, which will impact decisions on a care strategy. Ask an elder law attorney about trusts that can be established to provide for care for the disabled loved one, while still protecting the family’s assets.
Be proactive. Don’t delay too long in addressing financial issues after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. This can compound an already stressful and emotional time.
Be prepared to take action to get on top of the situation as soon as you’re aware that it could be a problem. Even establishing a plan for addressing these issues before a form of dementia is firmly diagnosed can be helpful.
Ask an experienced elder law attorney for guidance on how to manage these challenging times.
Reference: Statesville Record & Landmark (April 11, 2021) “Financial steps to take when dealing with Alzheimer’s”