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IKF Blog
Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Financial and Legal Planning for Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia may feel that someone has sped up the clock of time. Pressing items now fight for attention as you try to make sense of what has happened. But as this progressive illness will bring a continued decline in cognitive abilities, it’s important to ensure all legal and financial affairs are in order.

Scheduling a meeting with your attorney and financial advisor is recommended as soon as possible to review all of the applicable documents. To help organize your records as well as gain an overview of your expenses and assets, the Alzheimer’s Association provides this legal and financial Worksheet to help get you started.

Legal Capacity

The ability to execute a legal document is based on your legal capacity. This refers to competence in making decisions, understanding your actions and appreciating their consequences. But no documents will be implemented unless it’s determined that the capacity to make decisions is no longer present.

Your attorney can help determine the level of legal capacity required to sign a specific document and will be familiar with your state laws. The Alzheimer’s Association does recommend discussing these three key issues If you consult with an attorney:

Legal Documents

Each person should seek advice as it pertains to their particular situation, but the following is a list of documents that may be relevant. 


Determines how your assets will be distributed upon your death. Your executor will manage your estate but has no legal authority over your assets during your lifetime.

Living Trust

Includes instructions about the estate and assets to be transferred to the trust, such as property and bank accounts, as well as details for disposing of the property.

Durable Power of Attorney for health care

A person designated to make healthcare decisions if you’re no longer able. Ask first if they’re comfortable taking on this role and share with them your wishes and intent.

If you don’t appoint a power of attorney and become unable to make your legal, financial and healthcare decisions, the court may appoint a guardian or conservator to make them, which can include: 

  • Doctors or other health care providers
  • Types of treatments
  • Care facilities
  • End of life care
  • Do not resuscitate orders

Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment

A standard medical form that includes specific life-sustaining treatments that you do and do not want if you become seriously ill. Signed by your doctor, it becomes part of your medical record.

Living Will

A record of your wishes regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care if you’re no longer able to make decisions, including whether you want life-prolonging treatments, what kind and any organ donations you’d like to make.

Medical Release of Information

Forms available at your doctor’s office that allow your doctor to share information only with those that you choose.

Financial Planning Documents

As important as your legal documents are, you will also want to make sure your financial plans are in order.You may wish to designate a Durable Power of Attorney for finances to make financial decisions if the time comes when you are no longer able.

The Alzheimer’s Association provides this list of preliminary tasks and recommendations:

  1. Organize your documents and create an inventory of your assets and debts. Their Financial and Legal Document Worksheet simplifies this process.
  2. Identify family members who will have knowledge of your situation
  3. Estimate your costs of care
  4. Review any government benefits you may be eligible for
  5. Review applicable long-term care insurance policies
  6. If you’re a veteran, check for any available benefits
  7. Designate who will help you with financial responsibilities.

Considering Care Costs

When estimating what the cost of care for Alzheimer’s or dementia might be, consider the following services:

  • Ongoing medical treatment for symptoms, diagnosis and follow-up visits
  • Treatment or medical equipment for other conditions
  • Safety-related expenses such as modifications to the home
  • Prescription drugs
  • Personal care supplies
  • Adult day services
  • In-home care services
  • Full-time residential care services

Financial Resources

Review all resources that may be able to contribute to the cost of treatment and care, including:

  • Medicare, Medicare Part D and Medigap
  • Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income
  • Social Security Disability Insurance if you’re under 65
  • Insurance
  • Employee or retirement benefits
  • Personal assets
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Community services, such as Meals on Wheels, respite care or transportation services

What to do after the forms and documents are completed

After taking care of your legal and financial papers, make sure the right people have been notified about your plans. You’ll also want to get copies of applicable documents to your care team, spouse, attorney, physicians, or care partner.

Take back some control

Hardest to accept after receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia may be the feeling that you’ve lost control over your own life. This is a progressive disease but it’s more important than ever to be in charge of what you can.

Many families worry these conversations may be upsetting but it actually can be empowering. Don’t underestimate what it means for someone with a cognitive illness to take care of their legal and financial issues for their family. It is also comforting for them to know their wishes will be fulfilled. Once these documents are put in place, the time can be used to plan for the future ahead.

Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living

Among the many challenges of a cognitive diagnosis is making sure the legal and financial documents are up to date while the person is still capable of making their own decisions. Although everyone should plan for their healthcare, financial and legal futures, those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia may have a limited timeframe.

At Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living, we are here to support you and your family and offer important informational, educational and emotional support.   

Call (240) 455-4582 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.

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