Asking the right questions before cognitive impairment (Alzheimer’s / dementia) sets in can make all the difference in a loved one’s life, and in the lives of a family. Here are five steps, along with the questions to ask to help create a plan.
- Assets: It’s important for a primary caregiver, along with the individual’s financial planning team, to have a comprehensive understanding of the individual’s assets. This includes real estate (especially the primary residence) retirement accounts, bank accounts and vehicles.
Questions to Ask: Do you have a will? Who is the executor? Do you have a living will / advance care directives? What other property do you have? Do you have investments? Who manages those? Whose name are they in? Who is the beneficiary? How is your house titled? Do you want to keep it in the family? Have you considered downsizing?
- Income and Insurance: It’s very important to track all sources of income, including benefits – such as disability, Social Security etc. – and how these sources affect other things.
Questions to Ask: Have we identified all of your sources of income? Does your health insurance cover care for things like Alzheimer’s? Do you have supplemental insurance? Long-term care? Other policies with riders?
- Intentions: It’s important to understand the individual’s wishes to ensure they are fulfilled. Generally this involves legal arrangements and can address things like where they want to live as the disease progresses, and how care is to be provided. It is important to address these concerns in the earliest stages.
Questions to Ask: Do you have an elder law attorney? Have you thought about contacting one? Have you arranged for a durable power of attorney for finances and healthcare? Have you thought about where you want to live as things change?
- Banking & Administration: Managing day-today financial items becomes more difficult and more important and the disease progresses. Things like tracking expenses, paying bills, maintaining security (from i.d. theft and exploitation etc.)
Questions to Ask: Have you thought about adding direct deposit, automatic bill pay and overdraft protection to your bank accounts? How about overdraft protection? Have you thought about opening a convenience bank account with a trust joint owner? Have you considered establishing a representative payee for government benefits?
- Care Management: Determining how care is administered is only the first step. How to finance and facilitate care must be discussed, especially when the disease progresses. With some many options, with corresponding expense, defining a specific care plan could be the most important step in the process.
Questions to Ask: Do you have a long term care insurance policy? Can I read it? Have you reviewed what it will and won’t cover? Do you have life insurance? Does it include any benefits? Have you considered hiring a geriatric care manager? Have you considered usingin home care services like a maid and someone to prepare meals?
Talking to a loved one about personal things like money, wills, and the possibility they might have dementia can be difficult. Having those difficult conversation as early as possible can pave the way to a more successful path of care for the individual, and fewer negative impacts on the family.
*Neither Slate, Disharoon, Parrish & Associates, LLC nor its agents or representatives may provide tax or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.
Slate, Disharoon, Parrish and Associates, LLC, is located in Knoxville, Feel free to contact SDP Partner, Will Parrish with questions via email firstname.lastname@example.org or directly by phone at (865) 357-7373. Visit their website, www.sdp-planning.com.
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