Alzheimer’s & Dementia Planning
Alzheimer’s/Dementia Asset Protection Planning
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia? There is perhaps little more frightening than to be given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Alzheimer’s & Dementia Planning involve choosing from a variety of possible legal planning procedures, including Estate Planning and Asset Preservation planning, and then implementing them in order to obtain an optimal result for the entire family. Call the Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. at (847)253-7500 today to schedule an appointment with an experienced Elder Law Attorney to discuss your options.
Alzheimer’s / Dementia planning tends to be more complex since it is not uncommon for those with the disease to be otherwise very healthy, resulting in very extended periods of incapacity. This extended period of incapacity can be financially devastating to the family. An experienced Elder Law Attorney helps you to develop a plan to deal with the both the medical financial burdens associated with the diagnosis as well as assisting in protecting the quality of life and financial security any spouse and the entire family. Whether you want to protect your life savings, your spouse from being impoverished, the future of your disabled or special needs child, your caretaker child, precious family assets such as the family cabin, insuring that a portion of your life savings goes to your children or grandchildren, or want to have some funds available to pay for the small things when you are in long term care, then Alzheimer’s / Dementia planning is required. Contact the Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. to help you achieve your goals.
Planning, The Sooner the Better
If you even suspect Alzheimer’s, investigate planning immediately. It is essential that you act as soon as possible. Alzheimer’s disease and most forms of dementia are progressive, unpredictable diseases which affect each patient differently, however each results in a continuing loss of cognitive function over time. Time is of the essence when planning involves Alzheimer’s disease and dementia since the law requires an individual to have sufficient mental capacity to understand and approve the plan designed for you, or to sign documents authorizing others to act on their behalf.
When you or someone you love is diagnosed with a progressive disease like Alzheimer’s or dementia you face many serious considerations, and many of those, considerations need to be made quickly before the disease has a chance to progress. A complication of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease is that the person may lack or gradually lose the ability to think clearly. This change affects his or her ability to participate meaningfully in decision making and makes early legal and financial planning even more important. Although tough questions often arise, advance planning can help people with Alzheimer’s and their families clarify their wishes and make well-informed decisions about health care and financial arrangements. In addition to decisions about care, doctors, medical treatments and therapies, this is the time to make some legal decisions to plan for the future. The sooner you create an estate plan, the greater the likelihood that the patient will be able to express his or her full wishes, ensuring that the estate plan is exactly what he or she would want.
Alzheimer’s/Dementia Planning -Basic Planning
Legal planning is important for all people to consider, but for those who suspect or have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s even more important, and the timing of the planning is vital as well. The basic Estate Planning documents needed include Durable Powers of Attorney Property, Durable Powers of Attorney Health, Last Will and Testament and a Revocable Living Trust. These documents are essential to provide legal authority to the family or friends of the individual with Alzheimer’s or dementia to make medical as well as financial decisions for the individual once they no longer have the capacity or ability to make those decisions themselves. A Durable Power of Attorney give someone the right to make decisions in the place of someone else. In Illinois there are two types, one which allows someone to make property or financial decisions and one which allows someone to make healthcare and residence decisions. Depending upon the circumstances, the Durable Power of Attorney can be effective immediately, or upon the happening of a certain event, most commonly a Doctor’s written finding that the individual is no longer capable of making their own decisions. Unlike a general power of attorney, a Durable Power of Attorney is still valid even after the individual who executed it no longer has capacity.
A Last Will and Testament is the document which is used after your death to determine who will be in charge of wrapping up your Estate, your Executor, including paying your bills, and what items will be distributed to what individuals. If the Last Will and Testament is your primary Estate planning device, the individual you named as Executor will need to bring a Court action known as Probate to get the legal authority to act under your Last Will and Testament.
Advanced Alzheimer’s/Dementia Planning
Revocable Living Trust is frequently recommended because it handles many of the actions which otherwise have to be taken under a Durable Power of Attorney or Last Will and Testament, but does it without the necessity of Court involvement, and makes assisting the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia easier and more efficient both during life and after death. Unfortunately, many financial institutions do not honor Durable Powers of Attorney, even though the documents are legally sound, because of what the financial institutions perceive as potential liability on their part. The use of a Revocable Living Trust avoids that issue entirely. In addition, after death a Revocable Living Trust handles the wrapping up of the decedent’s estate like a Last Will and Testament, however unlike a Last Will and Testament a Revocable Living Trust generally does not require opening of Probate or any other Court proceeding. Thus, a Revocable Living Trust makes the handling of your finances easier and less costly during your life and after your death.
These documents work together, with each offering the Alzheimer’s or dementia person protection. Accordingly, the basic planning for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia should include all of these documents to offer the maximum protection for that individual and their family.
Alzheimer’s/Dementia Planning – Advanced Asset Protection
Alzheimer’s and dementia are progressive, unpredictable diseases which affect each patient differently, however each result in a continuing loss of cognitive function over time. Professional assistance with daily activities may be needed beginning as early as the very first year. For Alzheimer’s and dementia, planning must take into account increasing levels of care, including around-the-clock supervision for a period of many years. It’s crucial to have a plan for dealing with the exorbitant costs of medical and health care services that will be required to manage the illness, as well as any spouse or family’s financial stability and resources during that period and after the patient’s death.
While you and your family may be lucky enough to be able to privately pay for the care of the Alzheimer’s or dementia patient, it is important not to underestimate the total costs of that care. Alzheimer’s and dementia often result in extremely high medical and health care expenses, due partly to the drawn-out, degenerative nature of the disease, which can span many years, and because of the need for specialized, continual supervision. Accordingly planning for the money running out is a prudent strategy. Fortunately, Alzheimer’s/Dementia Planning by an experienced Elder Law Attorney can assist you and your family in reviewing a wide variety of extremely effective, and completely legal strategies for Asset Preservation which will allow you to protect against spousal impoverishment and preserving the money, investments, and property you’ve acquired over a lifetime, while still qualifying for Medicaid benefits to cover the cost of care. Call the Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. at (847)253-7500 today to schedule an appointment with an experienced Alzheimer’s/Dementia Planning Attorney.
Depending upon the family’s net worth, income, existence of long term care insurance and when a family starts Alzheimer’s/Dementia Planning will determine what advance planning strategy is appropriate to your family. If your family owns a commercial property which generates good income but would result in substantial capital gains tax if sold, an Irrevocable Income Trust might be right for you. You would still be entitled to all the income generated and the property could be kept until your death and thus avoid a substantial tax bill on the capital gains. On the other hand, if one of your children has agreed to be your caregiver so you could remain in your home and not have to pay a commercial service, then a Child Caregiver Agreement might be an effective strategy to compensate that child and preserve some of your legacy. If that child agrees to move into your home and provide you with care for a period of two years, a transfer of your home to that child upon your entry into a facility would be exempt if it were set up and documented correctly. The conversion of assets into an income stream might be an effective method of protecting community spouse. Unfortunately, an advanced planning technique that might be the most effective for some might be obtaining a divorce so that the healthy spouse could live out the balance of their life in reasonable comfort instead of poverty.
No matter how advanced the Alzheimer’s and dementia, it’s never too late to conduct Alzheimer’s/Dementia Planning to accomplish something that’s financially worthwhile. Further discussion of the needs of legal steps that you should consider after getting a diagnosis can be found at the following websites.
- Legal and Financial Planning for People with Alzheimer’s
- Long Term Care and Medicare, Medicaid, and More – DementiaToday
- Legal Documents | Caregiver Center | Alzheimer’s Association
- Medicaid Eligibility Criteria for Long Term Care Services – Alzheimer’s
While the options available are greater the earlier you do Alzheimer’s/Dementia Planning, there are generally some things which can be done no matter how long you wait. Even if most all the money is gone, consulting and retaining an experienced Alzheimer’s/Dementia Planning Attorney can help make sure that you or your loved one is approved for Medicaid even if the family inadvertently made transfers which might result in denial or a penalty being imposed. Call the Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. at (847)253-7500 today to schedule an appointment with an experienced Alzheimer’s/Dementia Planning Attorney.
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