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Issues to Address for Persons with Alzheimers Disease

Planning For The Future: Legal And Financial Issues To Address For Persons With Alzheimer’s Disease

Everyone, especially individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, should plan for the future. Legal and financial planning should begin as soon as possible after a diagnosis is made and includes putting in place documents that authorize another person to make health care and financial decisions for the person with Alzheimer’s and include financial plans for long-term care.

Determine Legal Capacity

Talk with the person with Alzheimer’s. Find out if s/he understands what is being explained and asked of him/her. If you are the person with Alzheimer’s, talk with a trusted family member or friend about your concerns and ask for help. If you are the person with Alzheimer’s and you do not have someone that you can share your information with, please call the Alzheimer’s Association Information Helpline at 1-800– 272-3900 for a referral to someone in the community who can help you.

Ask for medical advice if needed. Consult a medical professional if there is a question as to whether or not the person with Alzheimer’s has legal capacity to make decisions on his/her own behalf.

Take inventory of existing legal documents. Check to see if  advanced healthcare directives, trusts, and powers of attorney were executed prior to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Find An Attorney

It is important to obtain legal advice and services from an attorney who practices in the area of elder law, which focuses on guardianship, disability planning, and other related legal issues that affect older adults. If you need a referral to an attorney, contact your family attorney. Other referral sources can be found through Alzheimer’s Association’s Information Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

Review Your Own Financial Picture

If you are a care provider for a person with Alzheimer’s, your own financial resources may eventually have to be tapped to provide care. Review your own assets such as savings, investments and insurance plans.

If the person with Alzheimer’s is dependent on you financially, you may be eligible for medical expense deductions and dependent care credits on your tax return. Check with your tax specialist for further information. Also consider what plans need to be in place in case something happens to you. You may need to increase your own life insurance and disability insurance to provide a financial safety net for yourself and anyone else that depends on your income.

Preparing For Your Legal Appointment

All documents relating to the assets of the person with Alzheimer’s disease should be gathered ahead of time and shared with your attorney. These documents should include:

  • An itemized list of assets with current value, including whose names are on the accounts or ownership documents.
  • Copies of all deeds to real estate.
  • Copies of recent income tax returns.
  • Life Insurance policies and cash value of policies.
  • Health Insurance policies or benefit booklets.
  • Admission agreements to any health care facilities.
  • A list of names, addresses and phone numbers of involved family members, financial planners, accountants, and caregivers.

Understand Legal Documents

Commonly used documents in legal planning for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease include Power of Attorney, Advanced Healthcare Directives and Living Trusts. If you have recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and have not yet established a will or other legal documents, it is important that you take the time to do so. Call a trusted family member or friend to go with you to the first appointment with an attorney.

Complete a Health Care Directive (in recent years ND combined Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care). Think about your own philosophy about quality of life and communicate that to friends and family. Write down what medical treatments you do or do not want. Learn about advance directives. Finally, name two decision makers that will follow your  wishes should you become temporarily or permanently unable to do so.

For additional resources on legal and financial planning for persons with Alzheimer’s, please contact the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota at 1-800-272-3900.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research.

 

DISCLAIMER:  This information is not legal advice.  If you have a legal problem, you should  talk to a lawyer and ask for advice about your options.

Brochure Information Courtesy of Alzheimer’s Association

Published by Legal Services of North Dakota

July 2014