Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of Dementia have a debilitating impact on a person’s ability to make sound financial decisions, so the sooner you can get financial matters in order the better, says The (Florence, AL) Courier Journal’s recent article entitled “4 Financial Steps When Dealing with Alzheimer’s.”
Here are four important steps to take:
- Watch for signs of unusual financial activity. Discrepancies with money can frequently be a signal of cognitive challenges. Red flags may include difficulty paying a proper amount for an item, leaving bills unpaid, or making odd purchases.
- Name a Financial Agent. Many people are hesitant to give control of their personal finances to another. However, it’s important to have an honest discussion among family members. Identify a person who can be trusted to manage day-to-day money matters, if necessary. This person should be designated as the Agent under a Durable Financial Power-of-Attorney, with the authority to sign checks, pay bills and monitor finances.
- Check the Fine Print. May types of accounts bypass probate through the use of a beneficiary designation, joint tenants with right of survivorship, or payment on death designation. It is important to be certain that the named beneficiaries are up-to-date. Also be sure that alternate Trustees, or Agents have been named in case the primary Agent is unable or unwilling to act. For persons living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of Dementia, there will come a time when the debilitating impact of the disease leaves them without the capacity to make changes to these documents.
- Examine care expenses and how they will be covered. Create a strategy for how the person living with Dementia will be cared for as their cognitive abilities deteriorate over time. Make decisions about whether specialized care will be needed (either in the home or in a nursing or assisted living facility). Long-term care insurance, and other alternative funding sources should also be considered to help with costs. Speak to an elder law attorney about trusts that can be established to provide for care for the disabled individual, while still protecting the family’s assets.
Delaying for too long to address financial issues after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can make an already stressful and emotional time even worse.
Take action to address the situation, as soon as you are aware that it could be a problem. Even creating a plan for addressing these issues before a form of dementia is firmly diagnosed makes sense.
See an experienced elder law attorney for guidance on how to manage these challenging times.
Reference: The (Florence, AL) Courier Journal (June 8, 2021) “4 Financial Steps When Dealing with Alzheimer’s”