Here is another in our "Greatest Hits" series of blogs. This one was first published in November of 2011.
While medical research and advocacy are vital causes to uphold, Alzheimer’s is a disease that you and your loved ones might have to face directly, if you have not already. With the reality of Alzheimer’s or dementia striking close to home, some understanding and prior planning can help you in terms of the extensive economic toll and the unique legal ramifications.
According to a recent Forbes article, Alzheimer’s is as widespread as it is demanding. Consider this: Another American citizen will develop Alzheimer’s every 69 seconds. The symptoms are oftentimes subtle, at least initially. Some estimate that more than 13 million Americans will have the disease by 2050 and run up as much as $1 trillion in costs. Because of the progressive nature of the disease, most of the costs and problems won’t develop until later on. Nevertheless, significant planning must take place at the time of diagnosis, if not anticipated beforehand.
So, what is the scope of this “significant planning”? First, you will need to secure medical care, both for now and for the future. That means fundamental financial planning needs to be addressed, to include securing government benefits such as Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance. Second, because of Alzheimer’s progressive cognitive degeneration, estate planning must occur early in the process to secure and protect family assets. Thorough estate planning should include durable powers of attorney and advance health care directives. These documents create a plan for your future when you may no longer be able to manage your finances or make decisions regarding your health or personal care due to mental incapacity. With these documents, you identify a trusted person to act on your behalf and in your best interests to make financial and health care decisions for you.
Establishing durable powers of attorney and advance health care directives while you are in good mental and physical health will allow you to avoid the prospects of a court-supervised and expensive conservatorship.
Fundamentally, it’s important to understand that Alzheimer’s is not the same as other diseases. Through it all, competent counsel will be necessary to properly assess the needs and possibilities, as well as to ensure that everything is in place when needed most. At Idaho Estate Planning we have the experience and expertise to help you maintain your options and protect yourself as well as your loved ones now and into the future. We have a network of resources throughout the Treasure Valley ready to help us meet your needs. Remember, good planning is no accident!