It’s difficult to find someone who has not been emotionally and/or financially impacted by Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is one of our nation’s costliest diseases. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, total payments for all individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are estimated to total $355 billion in 2021 (not including unpaid caregiving). Sadly, afflicted individuals without adequate long-term care insurance frequently lose most, if not all, of their financial assets.
But even dementias’ beginning stages and mild cognitive impairment experienced by healthy seniors can put personal wealth at risk. That’s why it’s important to begin having conversations about your aging family member’s finances well before you see signs of mental decline. Obviously, this has to be done with great sensitivity and respect. Make sure they know you don’t want to take control, but you would like to ensure they are protected and their wishes honored in the years to come.
During ongoing dialogs, try to learn what you’ll need to know if it becomes necessary to manage their finances: the names and contact information of their financial planner, accountant, and attorney; financial records and where they are kept; their monthly income and the sources; insurance policies; the location of financial accounts; regular bills and how they are paid; and log-in information for online accounts.
Suggest meeting jointly with their financial professional and/or other family members. Gain an understanding of their priorities and wishes. Ask which assets are most important to them, what causes they want to support, and whether their will is up to date.
Propose having legal documents created that will allow you or another family member to make decisions if your loved one becomes unable to. This can include: a health care power of attorney (POA) or a more limited living will, either a limited or durable power of attorney for finances, an authorization to disclose account information, and a form authorizing a financial institution to contact you if concerns arise about their ability to manage finances. Not having these documents when they’re needed can make helping your elderly relative considerably more difficult. For example, without a POA, you may need to go to court to attain guardianship of your family member to access accounts on their behalf.
Contact our office if you would like more information about protecting your loved one or help creating a plan to care for them.