When your spouse has Alzheimer’s and is still at home, there are important planning steps that need to be taken before the diseases takes its toll. Attorney Dennis Toman explains key planning steps to help plan for the future and protect you and your spouse.
When you’re the caregiver for the spouse who has Alzheimer’s, it’s important to understand that you don’t want to wait until this has taken its toll before you start your planning. You should start the planning just as soon as you get that first diagnosis. The first time that you get a prescription for Aricept or Namenda or Exelon, you want to make sure that you start that planning for what’s going to happen if your spouse is no longer able to make decisions on their own.
The most important thing that you can do is to make sure that you, as well as your spouse, have the right type of power of attorney in place. Now there’re two types of powers of attorney; one deals with financial matters, the other deals with healthcare matters. You want to make sure that you have a powerful power of attorney. You don’t want powerless power of attorney when you need it most. Make sure that you work with a Certified Elder Law Attorney, someone who’s experienced and looking ahead to the questions and concerns that will arise as the health of your loved one continues to decline. With the right power of attorney, you can make sure that things will turn out a lot better both for you and for your loved one.
Another thing that you need to make sure you take care of, is you want to make sure to update your will. Probably your will is what I call a “sweetheart” will, or an “I love you” will that says, “I love you honey, everything is going to you if you survive me. If I survive everything comes to me, otherwise it goes on to the kids.” You know, it’s a very typical type of estate planning tool, the sweetheart will.
But in that situation, what you need to do instead of having an “I love you” will, is an “I love you dearly, honey, but” will. An “I love you dearly honey, but” will is going to be a will that makes sure that if your spouse with Alzheimer’s survives you, that the assets that you and your spouse have accumulated over a lifetime will not suddenly be lost due to cost of care. Instead they can be available to pay for things that Medicaid wouldn’t pay for to make sure that he or she she can qualify for benefits and to help make sure that he or she never runs out of money.
When your spouse has Alzheimer’s or you have Alzheimer’s, make sure that you act. That’s the single most important thing that you can do.
Act, don’t delay. Procrastination is the biggest enemy to good planning.