Legal and Financial Planning for People with Dementia

While it’s important for everyone to plan for the future, legal plans are especially vital for a person diagnosed with dementia. The sooner planning begins, the more likely it is that the person with dementia will be able to participate. Legal planning includes:

  • Planning for long-term care and health care.
  • Making arrangements for finances and property.
  • Naming another person to make decisions on behalf of the person with dementia.

1. Those named in the power of attorney document should have a copy of and access to the original.
2. The person with dementia should name a successor (back-up) agent for power of attorney in the event that the agent may one day be unable to act.
3. Once a power of attorney for health care documents and/or a signed living will is in place, give copies to the person’s health care providers.
4. Consider choosing an attorney or a bank to manage the individual’s estate if the person lacks a trusted individual with time or expertise.
5. The person with dementia should discuss his or her wishes with the chosen power of attorney to make sure the agent is comfortable carrying them out.

After receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, the need for and cost of future care may not be immediately considered. Financial planning often gets pushed aside because of stress and fear. The sooner planning begins, the more the person with dementia may be able to participate in making decisions.

1. Discuss finances and future care wishes soon after a diagnosis.
2. Organize and review important documents.
3. Seek help from well-qualified financial and legal advisers.
4. Estimate possible costs for the entire disease process.
5. Look at insurance options.
6. Find out for which government programs you are eligible.
7. Learn about income tax breaks you may qualify for.
8. Take advantage of low-cost and free community services.
9. Consider how personal property and work-related benefits can become a source of income.

The local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association offers a wide variety of free online and in-person classes, including legal and financial planning. Call today for more information. 208.206.0041.
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