If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you are probably feeling overwhelmed. Many people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease feel a profound sense of uncertainty. Researchers are still trying to determine what causes Alzheimer’s disease and why it progresses at different rates in different patients. One of the most important things people can do after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is to hire an elder law attorney who will create a plan to protect their assets and ensure they have the best care possible moving forward. Below, we have provided 10 elder law planning tips to help those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.
1) Look Into Elder Law Planning as Soon as Possible
We understand how difficult it can be to think about the future, especially after receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. However, it is important to speak with an elder law attorney as soon as possible after receiving your diagnosis. Many people are unaware of all the different ways elder law attorneys can help them prepare for the future. Elder law planning goes far beyond simply creating a will or trust-based estate plan.
2) Get Your Financial Affairs in Order
An elder law attorney can help you prepare for the future by protecting your assets and helping you qualify for long-term care benefits through Medicaid. An elder law attorney can also help you create legal documents that will ensure you receive the type of medical care you want.
3) Protect the Assets of the Person With Alzheimer’s Disease
You work your entire life to save and plan for retirement. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis often seems like a blow because you are unsure how long you will have your mental facilities and manage your financial affairs. An elder law attorney can help you place your assets into a trust, and you can create the terms of the trust agreement. If you anticipate needing long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility, an elder law attorney can help you qualify for benefits while protecting your assets for your beneficiaries.
4) Obtain Services for the Person With Alzheimer’s Disease
Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis or watching a loved one receive a diagnosis can feel incredibly overwhelming. Many people do not know where to turn after their doctor tells them the news. However, different government and private-sector programs and services are meant to assist people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In some cases, only those who have a low enough income will qualify for these services. Your elder law attorney can tell you about all the different programs available in your area, and help you arrange your finances, so that you qualify for them.
5) Create a Durable Power of Attorney
Creating a durable power of attorney is especially important for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In a durable power of attorney, you can select an agent who will make financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. This legal document is incredibly important because it will allow someone you trust to pay your bills, access your bank accounts, and manage your property when you are no longer able to do so. We recommend choosing someone who is geographically close to you and trustworthy.
6) Create a Caregiver Agreement
Many people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s have concerns about who will take care of them as their disease progresses. One way to protect yourself and your caregiver is to create a caregiver agreement, especially when one of your family members is taking care of you. You can agree to how much you will pay your loved one for care services. Additionally, when you pay a caregiver according to your caregiver agreement, you may be able to deduct the expenses from your taxes.
7) Create an Advance Directive and Health Care Proxy
Creating an advance directive or Health Care proxy is perhaps the most important step after receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. These legal documents can appoint a person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. These documents also tell medical providers what type of care you would like in emergencies or as part of your end-of-life care. You and your loved ones will feel an immense sense of relief knowing that your healthcare wishes are stated in a binding legal document.
8) Understand How to Qualify for Medicaid
As mentioned above, one of the most important aspects of elder law planning is to allow an individual to qualify for long-term nursing home insurance. Most people do not have the assets to pay $8,000 to $10,000 a year for nursing care assistance. We can help you protect your assets by transferring them into an irrevocable trust. By doing so, you can lower your income and asset level to qualify for long-term nursing benefits through Medicaid.
9) Create a Living Will
A living will allows you to choose a Health Care Surrogate and discuss your medical preferences. Creating a living will is an important part of your estate plan. Many people will list what they would like to happen for their funeral service and how they would like their end-of-life care to take place. Sometimes, people will include letters to their loved ones as part of their living will, or thoughts about what is important to them in this challenging time of their lives.
10) It is Never Too Late to Start Planning
Many people are dismayed after receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis because they have not yet created their estate plan. It is never too late to begin the process of estate planning. Contact CommonWealth Elder Law today to learn more about how you can plan for the future.