There are many new and challenging things happening as you take care of someone with Alzheimer’s disease, age related dementia, or standard memory loss with age (which many adults see in later life). As personality and motor functions are taken over by the progressive nature of these diseases, you will find yourself dealing with new personality traits and habits, and may even see the person you once knew disappear altogether. The most important thing anyone can do for themselves, and for the ones they love, is to make sure that there are plans in place while they are capable of making choices, and cognizant of consequences. Waiting until someone cannot sign the papers might mean costly delays in care and services, as well as legal and other fees to be paid by you or your family.
One of the first and most important items to do is to make sure that the person with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory loss knows what type of papers they are signing, and why they are signing them. To be considered legally binding, legal documents must contain the person’s written consent in the form of a signature. In some cases, you need a notary’s signature as well. There are ways around this, but they are costly in time and money. You can refer to our post about legal documents for more information.
Keeping Finances Straight with Alzheimer’s Disease
You may not think it necessary to move financial control immediately when a diagnosis comes through, but it is a good idea to have fiduciary paperwork in place before you need to enact it. As the Scouts say: Be Prepared!
Here are a few things to help keep your finances straight while caring for, or dealing with, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, or age related dementia.
Make A List Of All Accounts (And Where They’re Held)
It may sound simple, but if you’re caring for someone who has spent a lifetime taking care of their own finances, it may not be easy to tell where all of their banking is done. Ask for a listing of all accounts, including checking, savings, retirement accounts, credit cards, and any loans that may exist with financial institutions.
Consolidate And Simplify Accounts Where Possible
This starts with getting all of the contact information for advisors and institutions. If possible, consolidate multiple accounts into one account. You may need to have financial Power of Attorney to take charge of accounts for someone who is unable to make decisions on their own. Put yourself (or the appropriate fiduciary) as the main contact, if possible, so that they have the ability to work with the financial institutions. Schedule a meeting with any financial advisor, as well, where everyone can hear the plan forward, and to help you make informed decisions that will help with care in the long term.
Title All Accounts Correctly
Make sure that all accounts are correctly titled. Trust accounts, whether current or new, need to be labelled as a Trust account. If you need help figuring out how to label your accounts, talk to your local bank, as they have most all of the tools you may need. If you need to talk to someone about starting a trust, power of attorney, or other legal item, consult a local legal expert. Though there is information online, a local expert will know any local laws or issues that may need to be addressed.
Keep All Beneficiary Designations Current
There may not be any changes to the status of beneficiaries, but if there are changes to be made, you should go ahead and make them. This will make things much easier as the disease progresses, and keep your family from having to guess at intentions later on. Talk to your legal advisor about changes to any current documents, and what it means for the present as well as the future.
Review Bills and Bill Paying
Depending on your living situation, there may be ways to streamline the bill paying process. Go online to your service providers and see if there are paperless options for billing, or other ways to make paying the necessary bills easier. Consolidate where you can! Make sure you are paying only for things that you need, and always go over insurance billing for discrepancies.
Keep Financial Records Updated
Make sure to keep all financial records up to date as much as possible – this makes it easier for an outside entity to look over those finances, in the event that needs to happen. Staying up to date with finances is also an activity that can be done together as caregiver and patient, just as much as reading or watching a movie. Someone with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or age related memory loss may not have much to add, but being included can certainly help engage different centers of the brain.
For those who live in residential facilities, or are thinking of applying to one, it is important to have financial records available for periodic review. Having a file together of the last year, and one of the last 5 years, helps streamline the application processes for those who are looking to move into a facility. To learn more about the types of financial paperwork necessary for a residential facility, you can contact Landmark Memory Care today.