When a family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other disabling health condition, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the many legal and financial questions that can arise as a result of the diagnosis. Naturally, the first thing we want to do is ensure our loved one is safe and receiving the necessary medical attention. Determining how to pay for long-term care is what’s often confusing for families. It is important to find an attorney with whom you feel comfortable and who has the expertise to advise you on these matters.
There are several legal issues to consider when a person is (or may become) incapacitated. A few of those issues include who will handle his financial affairs, proper management of his medical care and proper estate planning.
This might mean a long term care facility or nursing home. Arranging for payment of long-term health care can be challenging from a few different perspectives. First, there are the financial and insurance considerations. Is there private insurance? What about Medicare? Medicaid? Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? Loved ones will want to preserve family assets while also working to protect the loved one’s spouse or any other disabled family member. Following death, the focus shifts to legal and proper distribution of his or her assets.
From a legal perspective, loved ones are encouraged to consult a qualified estate planning attorney as early as possible. Remember, there are always more options while your loved one still has the legal capacity to make his or her own decisions. The question of capacity is a gray area, and must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
A few of the important documents could include durable powers of attorney, revocable living trusts, representative payee designations, conservatorships and more. Each option brings with it both benefits and challenges, depending on your loved one’s needs. Further, for making medical decisions, you should discuss the use of a durable power of attorney for health care, healthcare directives or a living will.
There are many planning options that may be available to finance long-term care. Much depends on the individual’s circumstances; such as his marital status, mental capacity, his age and health most importantly, the applicable law in the state where the individual resides.
Individuals seeking a health care directive may wish to think about the type of life-sustaining procedures he or she would want used in the case of a serious illness. In addition, it may be helpful to identify a first, second and third choice of family member or trusted friend to make personal health care and financial decisions in the event your loved one is incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so.
Clearly, there are many challenges and worse, those challenges present themselves usually around the time the family is trying to understand the unfair hand they’ve just been dealt. It’s little wonder, then, that many families say taking control over those things they can change is empowering for them as well as their loved ones.
If you’d like to learn more about dementia, Alzheimer’s or if you’d like to discuss your estate planning options, we invite you to contact The Zimmer Law Firm today at (513) 721-1513. We stand ready to provide guidance for you and your family.