A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is difficult on both the patient and the immediate family. Unfortunately, this is a disease that can quickly incapacitate, which means that prompt action to preserve the patient’s finances is required, even if the emotional processing isn’t complete.
In order to help give you a place to start in deciding what to do after a loved one receives the diagnosis, here are five tips.
1. Appoint a power of attorney. It’s impossible to determine when—or if—an Alzheimer’s patient will have difficulty remembering to pay bills, which is why a financial power of attorney (POA) should be named immediately upon being diagnosed. That individual can ensure everything is paid on time, checks are deposited and finances remain in good standing.
2. Send copies of the POA paperwork to the trustee, bank, insurers, lenders, credit card issuers and so on. This makes it much easier and faster to give the POA access should the patient’s health decline.
3. Make a budget. Handling the finances of a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s is much like handling your own finances. Create a budget for income and expenses and stick to it. Budgets are one of the few ways you can ensure the patient’s savings last and readily show how you’ve been managing his or her finances should questions arise.
4. Set up a bill payment and financial monitoring system. The system should allow the patient to stay in the loop so they can monitor everything and not feel excluded from their own finances. Handling it this way also allows the POA to make sure the patient isn’t getting swindled or taken advantage of by anyone. When possible, make sure you set up direct deposit into the patient’s account for income and automate what bills you can. Not only will this be safer in terms of identity theft, but it will also create a paper trail and make financial management less stressful for you.
5. Discuss final expense plans, such as funeral arrangements. If there were any pre-arrangements made, be sure to get appropriate phone numbers and info.
When handling the finances of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, don’t neglect your own finances. Make sure you stay on top of your own bills and legacy planning too.