Alzheimer’s and Dementia

holding hands of loved on with alzheimer's

The decline of a loved one’s cognitive capabilities is a devastating event.  The acceptance of this event is often delayed, which can make the situation even more serious.  Families and spouses are not prepared for the challenges they will be facing in dealing with questions concerning the consistent safe care of their loved one and the overwhelming costs involved.

Seeking professional guidance is critical.  Your local Alzheimer’s Association is a good place to start.  A Geriatric Care Manager is also a valuable and worthwhile resource to help you deal with home and care needs for your loved one.  And consulting an experienced Elder Law attorney is critical.  The right attorney can help you through this financial crisis by helping you apply for and receive government assistance, avoid spousal impoverishment and protect your assets.

You should seek the assistance of an Elder Law attorney immediately upon discovery of this debilitating disease.  Legal planning for Alzheimer’s or Dementia involves the following basic documents, which are no long so basic, and should be entered into while your loved one is still competent to avoid judicial involvement and Guardianship.

Financial Power of Attorney/General Power of Attorney

  • Must be written for asset protection purposes
  • Must be signed while competent to avoid going to court

Durable Power of Attorney

  • Provides for the appointment of an agent to take effect upon the incapacity or mental incompetence of a person, or regardless of the incapacity or mental incompetence of a person.
  • Must be signed when the person is competent.

Health Care Power of Attorney

  • Appointment of one or more healthcare agents to make medical decisions for you when you can no longer communicate your wishes for yourself
  • Can avoid going to court

Advanced Directive (Living Will)

  • Guides physicians and family members as to your wishes regarding emergency medical treatment decisions when you can no longer communicate your wishes yourself
  • For example, this document could direct your physician not to keep you alive on machines

HIPAA Medical Release Form

  • Required by Federal Law for medical care providers (hospitals, physicians, etc.) to share your confidential medical information with anyone, including your family and healthcare agents

Will

  • Usually couples execute wills with each individual leaving everything to their spouse and then equally to their children
  • Not an advisable plan for a married person dealing with this disease
  • Provisions should be made for a Supplemental Needs Trust for the spouse with the disease, that will provide for government assistance, take care of needs not covered by that assistance and protect all assets for the children at the death of the spouse with the disease

Trusts

  • Both revocable and irrevocable trusts play an important role in getting financial support for the care needed, while protecting your home and other assets

The team at Keston Law has the knowledge and experience with Medicaid, VA Pension Benefits and other government assistance programs, as well as the practical issues facing families dealing with this dreaded disease.

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