Legal and Financial Planning for People with Alzheimer's Disease
Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease
When diagnosed with a serious illness, it is important to examine legal and financial arrangements and to make plans for the future in light of the present circumstances. When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, this process of examination and planning becomes even more important as the diagnosis is one that carries an expectation of declining mental and physical health.
While being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is a difficult time that calls for many unexpected changes and decisions, it is of utmost importance that legal and financial planning is conducted as soon as possible. There are some legal and financial documents available that can help to ensure that one’s personal wishes, financial decisions, or end-of-life healthcare decisions are carried out, such as a will, living trust, or advance directives. Experts recommend retaining a lawyer when preparing advance planning documents.
Planning with a Lawyer
Every state has different laws, documents, forms, and resources available for legal and financial planning. Lawyers who are knowledgeable on specific state laws can help with legal and financial planning in a way that ensures the person and their family’s wishes are carried out.
A lawyer can assist with:
- Documenting healthcare wishes of someone when that person can no longer make such decisions
- Documenting financial management and estate planning for someone who can no longer make financial decisions
Advance Healthcare Directives
Advance directives for healthcare are documents that communicate the healthcare wishes of a person with Alzheimer’s disease so that these can be carried out even if the person can no longer make or communicate these decisions. Below are examples of documents that can be used for advance healthcare directives:
- Living Will – A living will documents your decisions on medical treatment near the end of life or if otherwise unable to make decisions on emergency treatment.
- Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare — The durable power of attorney for healthcare is the person designated to make healthcare decisions for the person with Alzheimer’s disease, when he or she can no longer do so.
- Do Not Resuscitate Order — This document instructs healthcare professionals not to resuscitate, or perform CPR, if the person’s heart stops or they stop breathing.
There may be other documents in addition to the ones mentioned above that can assist in more particular legal planning for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. It may be best to work with an attorney in preparing legal and financial planning so that documents and possible medical scenarios are not overlooked.
Advance Financial Directives
Advance directives for financial management are similar to the documents mentioned above but pertain to financial planning rather than medical. Financial and statement management documents must be created while the person with Alzheimer’s disease can still make these decisions.
Below are examples of documents commonly used in such situations:
- Will – A will documents how a person’s assets are to be distributed upon death. This can include arrangements for minors or other dependents, gifts, trusts, and funeral arrangements.
- Durable Power of Attorney for Finances — The durable power of attorney for finances is the person who is entrusted to make financial decisions on behalf of the person with Alzheimer’s disease when they no longer can do so.
- Living Trust — This document appoints a trustee to hold title to property and funds for the beneficiaries after the person with Alzheimer’s disease can no longer do so.
It is recommended that when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, they move into legal and financial planning as quickly as possible. In some instances it may take time to implement these documents or it may be that a person’s mental health declines more rapidly than expected.
There are many variables when it comes to legal and financial planning for people with Alzheimer’s disease, which is why experts recommend moving quickly and working with an attorney. If you or a loved one are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, consider reaching out to your health care provider and engaging other counseling resources for guidance on next steps.