For patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, planning for legal and financial matters for the future should be of utmost importance to family members. Alzheimer’s care can put a tremendous financial strain on the family as medical bills, prescription costs, and the costs of nursing and long-term care can all add up quickly and deplete personal savings. If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you should have a completed will, power of attorney, and plans for long-term care already in place. If not, do so immediately, as these protections should not be delayed any further.
In this guide, we’ll show you the steps to creating legal and financial planning for Alzheimer’s patients.
Take Action As Fast As Possible
If a patient is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and can handle decision-making, he or she should establish legal and financial protections as quickly as possible. This is in accordance with the Competency law in the eyes of the court, which only allows legally competent people to handle legal and financial matters such as one’s will. Once Alzheimer’s disease progresses during the later stages, the court may deem the patient as incompetent, thus a family member, friend, or even a surrogate will be appointed to act as a representative.
Set Up a Will
The law states that a person must be of sound mind in order to be deemed capable of drafting a will. While that does not mean that an Alzheimer’s patient is automatically excluded, specific criteria are required to be met for the execution of a will. As such, to be better safe than sorry, it’s best to create a will when your loved one is still able to make decisions. Setting up a will is incredibly important as it ensures that the patient’s assets and estate will be handed down.
Establish a Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document set by an individual (principal), allowing a designated person (agent or attorney-in-fact) to act as a representative in the court’s eyes. There are two types of durable power of attorney that Alzheimer’s patients should create:
Otherwise known as a living will, this durable power of attorney allows the patient to designate a trusted person to decide on healthcare issues when he or she is no longer competent to do so. These decisions
encompass a wide range of medical problems, from life support to a do-not-resuscitate order. A copy of this will should be provided to the patient’s doctor.
In the case of a durable power of attorney for finances, the patient has to name a family member, close friend, or a professional to act as an agent or proxy once he or she is incapacitated. Financial concerns like banking, investments, tax, and retirement costs are handled by the agent on behalf of the patient.
Prepare Personal Documentation
To prevent any mishaps from occurring, family members or caregivers should gather personal information such as the patient’s name, address, Social Security number, and credit card details in advance. Other documentation like government benefit programs, personal savings, private insurance, and loans should also be gathered. This is so that family members and caregivers are able to assist in payments and applications for services in the name of the patient.