Caregiving for someone with dementia can come with many challenges. One of the biggest challenges is money and legal issues. Americans spend roughly $190 billion per year on their care recipients for out-of-pocket expenses. And, in order to do so, 63% of these caregivers are forced to dip into savings or sell and cash in on assets. Below, you will find 10 legal tips to help family caregivers navigate the confusing legal and financial landscape, get the necessary legal documents in order, and cope with financial challenges.
10 Legal Planning Tips For Dementia Caregivers
- Plan ahead – Before a loved one becomes too sick, create a plan with them that includes their wishes and input. This will prevent you from having to make decisions on their behalf later on.
- Review the plan frequently – Changes to the plan can happen overnight. A death in the family, relocation or changes to insurance can all be cause for a shift in the plan. If these issues arise, make sure they are addressed.
- Make smart decisions – Weigh out all your options before making big decisions. You can seek professional advice if it becomes necessary.
- Know the difference between ‘guardian’ and ‘conservator. – “A caregiver of an individual who no longer has the legal capacity to execute powers of attorney or trusts might have to become that individual’s guardian or conservator. A guardian has the legal authority to make decisions about the lifestyle and well-being of another person. The decisions a guardian may make include where a person may live, what care and medical treatment will be provided, and what religious and educational activities will be made available.
- Sell or rent property that is not being used – If your loved one is living in a care facility, there’s no reason for an empty house to just be sitting unused. Consider renting or selling the property for funds that can be used to care for the individual with dementia.
- Investigate credits for veterans – Some V.A programs offer discounts or other forms of financial support are possibly available. Some veteran programs are free, while others require some sort of payment.
- Know when to seek legal help – If there is a disagreement in the family, or you are unsure of how to handle a certain situation, know when you need the advice of an expert.
- A financial power of attorney must be set up while your loved one has the capacity for decision-making -most courts require that legal forms are in order. This is best to take care of during the early stages of dementia.
- Include the will and power of attorney in the same document. – This is your ‘health care representative’ or ‘attorney-in-fact’ for healthcare. Make sure you choose someone who you trust and who will have your loved one’s best interest in mind.
- Gather all insurance-related information. – Consider any insurance documents that you own that might pay out if you have a medical emergency, disability, illness or death. You’ll want to list any disability policies, life insurance, health care directive and long-term care policies for reference.
Taking on the financial and legal responsibilities of someone with dementia can be very daunting as the system that can be difficult to navigate. It is best to be as proactive with this as possible. At Orchard at Brookhaven is a luxury senior living community in Atlanta, and we are are here to help you navigate these difficult times. If you have questions about our community or services we offer, please contact us and speak to someone.