An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is a devastating blow, one that requires immediate action to ensure the financial resources built over a lifetime can sustain a person through this progressive and fatal disease.
--Reuters (July 20, 2011) “Alzheimer’s: early planning critical to financial health”
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be devastating for everyone involved, including the patient and all of their family members. Should you be facing this diagnosis, there are probably a million thoughts racing through your mind, from keeping your loved one safe to caring for them as the disease progresses. One thing you might not think about is the need for estate planning. As a recent article by Reuter’s explains, if you or someone you love has a family history of dementia, is showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s or is concerned about later-life planning, it’s time to get to work.
You’ll want to assemble a team that specializes in long-term planning and elder care issues. A good place to start is the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). An elder law attorney can help navigate the elective transfer of decision-making authority through a power of attorney or trust and can help you qualify for needs-based programs like Medicaid and Veterans Pension Benefits if necessary. An elder law attorney also can set up a legal framework through which the client and his or her family can transfer assets and decision-making responsibilities.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., with 5.4 million Americans suffering from the disease. So, health care proxies will be another important aspect of your legal plan.