How to Navigate Legal and Financial Matters in Dementia Care at Home?

Introduction:

Providing in-home care for a loved one with dementia involves navigating numerous complex legal and financial decisions. 

Having the proper advance planning documents and arrangements in place ensures your family member’s wishes are carried out when they can no longer make their own legal and financial choices.

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Understand the Key Planning Documents:

Several essential legal documents are critical for dementia care at home. 

A durable power of attorney for finances names someone to handle all financial matters when your loved one can no longer manage their affairs.

A living will details end-of-life treatment preferences. And a will indicates how all assets should be distributed after death.

Consult an Elder Law Attorney for Guidance:

An elder law attorney who specializes in dementia planning can help interpret state laws, ensure documents follow all legal requirements, preserve assets, and answer questions. 

Be sure to ask about their fees upfront before scheduling a consultation. Get referrals from organizations like the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

Complete Documents Soon After a Dementia Diagnosis: 

It’s vital to complete advance health care directives and update financial plans as soon as possible after a dementia diagnosis, while your loved one still has the capacity to understand the decisions being made. 

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Their ability to fully comprehend complex legal matters and implications will progressively decline over time.

Review All Plans Regularly:

Revisit power of attorney documents, wills, trusts, and health care directives every few years and especially after any major life events to ensure they still accurately reflect your loved one’s wishes. 

Laws, financial situations, and personal preferences often change over time. Update any documents accordingly.

Keep Original Copies in a Secure Place:

Always keep the original signed documents in a very safe place like a fireproof safe, safety deposit box, or lawyer’s office. 

Provide extra copies to close family members and whoever is designated as your loved one’s health care proxy or power of attorney. This ensures easy access in case of an emergency. 

Discuss Plans Thoroughly with Family:

Take time to explain your loved one’s care and financial wishes and planning documents to all family members involved so everyone thoroughly understands the legal arrangements in advance. 

This helps prevent potential conflicts or confusion later when your loved one can no longer readily express their own care preferences.

Make Funeral and Burial Plans Well in Advance:

Advance planning for preferred funeral and burial services provides immense comfort and reduces stress for caregivers later. 

Discuss your loved one’s specific wishes for services, burial location, costs, cremation, etc. while they can still convey their preferences. 

Seek Free or Low-Cost Legal Aid if Needed:

If you cannot afford an attorney, seek help from legal aid offices, nonprofit organizations, or social services to get the process started. You can also get basic health care directive templates online.

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Work Closely with Your Loved One’s Doctor:

Your loved one’s doctors can explain their current ability to participate in decision-making and offer tips for completing health care directives. 

They can guide discussions about medical preferences and end-of-life care. Medicare covers these planning discussions.

Consider Hiring a Geriatric Care Manager:

These professionals can provide invaluable support with navigating care planning discussions and connect you to needed legal and financial resources. 

They offer ongoing guidance as your loved one’s dementia progresses and care needs change.

Conclusion:

Thorough advance legal and financial planning ensures your family member’s care wishes and finances are handled according to their preferences when dementia impairs their ability to make their own decisions. 

Consult experts to create comprehensive plans you review and update regularly.

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