A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or any serious progressive disease takes some time to absorb. However, during the days and weeks after the diagnosis, it is important to take quick steps to protect the person’s health as well as their legal and financial lives, advises the recent article “What to do after an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis?” from The Indiana Lawyer.
Here are the legal steps that need to be taken, before the person is too incapacitated to legally conduct their own affairs:
General Durable Power of Attorney—A person needs to be appointed to perform legal and financial duties when the time comes. This can be a family member, trusted friend or a professional.
Advanced Health Care Directive—A person must be entrusted with making health care decisions, when the patient is no longer able to communicate their wishes. It will also explain wishes for end-of-life medical care, including whether to prolong life using artificial means.
HIPAA Authorization—Without this document, medical care providers will not be able to discuss the person’s illness or share reports and test results. An authorized person will be able to speak with doctors, pick up prescriptions and obtain medical reports. It is not a decision-making authorization, however.
Funeral Plans—Some states permit the creation of a legally enforceable document stating wishes for funerals, burials or cremation and memorial services. If a legal document is not permitted, then it is a kindness to survivors to state wishes, and be as specific as possible, to alleviate the family’s stress about what their loved one would have wanted.
Medicaid/Medi-Cal Planning—Care for Alzheimer’s and other dementias becomes extremely costly in the late stages. A meeting with an elder law attorney is important to see if the family’s assets can be protected, while obtaining benefits to pay for long-term and dementia care.
After the patient dies, there may be a claim against it from the state to recover Medicaid/Medi-Calcosts. By law, states may be required to recover assets for long-term care and related drug and hospital benefits. All assets in the recipient’s probate estate are subject to recovery, except if surviving spouse, minor children, blind or disabled child is living or where recovery would cause hardship.
With good planning and the help of an experienced elder law attorney, the family may be able to mitigate claims by the government against the estate.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like your plan for safe, problem free, and successful transfer of assets to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to review your estate plan and identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: The Indiana Lawyer (Jan. 6, 2020) “What to do after an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis?”