The Cost of Dementia

When one receives a diagnosis of dementia, the last thing the family usually considers is the cost. Dementia, however, can be extremely costly to a family if there has not been adequate planning done ahead of time with the assistance of an attorney. From Powers of Attorney, to Medi-Cal coverage, and basic Estate Planning, the costs of dementia can impact not only the loved one with the diagnosis, but the entire family as well.

There are many stages of dementia and this disease can creep in slowly. Even before a professional diagnosis, there are often warning signs in the first stages before severity develops. It is critical that you or your loved ones make plans for long term care and the future even if you do not currently have dementia or if you are in the early stages. One of the main reasons is because one dementia reaches a certain point, the individual is no longer allowed to make legal decisions on their own. Once this occurs, a court has to appoint someone to make decisions for the individual, and it may not be the person they desired. This is the first of many costly court proceedings. Long term care is also another exorbitant expense and Medi-Cal needs to be applied for with the assistance of a skilled attorney. If the individual no longer has legal control of their finances and decisions, everything must pass through the person designated by the court, complicating the process. Lastly, after the person has passed, if the estate has not been put into a trust, the family may be penalized further by the costs of probate.

Dementia is devastating in itself. Family and loved ones should not also be burdened by the weight of court proceedings, hiring attorneys, and losing their inheritance.

How can you prevent dementia from costing your family?

Pre-planning.

Before dementia impacts your family, the following legal documents should be in order. One should have a designated Medical Power of Attorney and Financial Power of Attorney. They can be the same person or separate, but individuals need to be assigned to make medical decisions as well as all financial decisions should you become incapable for making them. These individuals should know what their responsibilities are and the plans should be shared with the family so that there are no surprises.

Long term care planning should also be done well before it is needed. If you plan on utilizing Medi-Cal to cover long term care expenses, an attorney should be consulted to discover the best way to protect the family inheritance as well as to ensure there is no reason to be disqualified.

Estate planning is another way to stop the costs of dementia. Assets and real estate are also usually best placed in a trust. An attorney can advise the family as to what type of trust is best and save the family the cost of probate.

Overall, dementia is costing the family enough as it is. Don’t let your family have legal costs as well. Protect your assets and decide the best person to make decisions for you medically and financially now, especially if dementia runs in your family.