By Bennett Whitlock, CRPC® Private Wealth Advisor
The increasing prevalence of dementia diagnoses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, is affecting more families in America. Family members must confront a wide range of issues, from determining when someone is no longer capable of driving to identifying suitable caregiving options and managing financial affairs.
Looking for signs
As a person’s inability to manage finances becomes more evident, other family members need to approach this issue delicately. One important step that should happen well in advance is to designate a person or persons as “power of attorney.” A general power of attorney gives the designated person the ability to act as principal for another, including opening or closing financial accounts. By having a durable power of attorney designated in advance, family members won’t need to seek court approval to establish a guardianship over financial affairs.
Planning steps to consider
If a person who is beginning to face issues related to dementia is working with a financial advisor, that professional should be contacted, and a meeting can be held to discuss the circumstances.
Determine sources of income, including Social Security and pensions, and make sure a structure is in place so that all payments are directed to the right accounts. To the extent that automatic bill paying can be established, this will make things easier for the individual and caregivers.
Insurance is another major area to consider. Be sure all life, health, long-term care and disability insurance policies are identified and proper beneficiaries are named. Make certain the right coverage is in place to meet the needs of the individual, who is sure to require additional medical attention in the years ahead.
Prepare for the costs of caregiving
Careful planning is also needed to prepare for expenses related to ongoing care which will become more significant. A plan should be put in place, including making arrangements for in-home care or moving to a facility that can provide the necessary level of support as the condition worsens.
If adult children are concerned about issues with their parents, it may be beneficial to get the conversation started soon. Consulting with a financial advisor and an attorney familiar with elder law issues may also be helpful.
Bennett Whitlock, CRPC ®, is a private wealth advisor and managing director with Whitlock Wealth Management, a franchise of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Learn more at WhitlockWealth.com or call 703-492-7732.