Parents, Alzhmimer's & Money | Easing into a Difficult Conversation | Planning Insights

Anne Hussman |

Every eighth American aged 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease, and 43% of Americans aged 85 and older have it, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Consider those percentages in light of the Social Security Administration’s estimate that about 25% of today’s 65-year-olds will live past age 90. These shocking statistics have serious implications for family wealth.1,2  

Options to help a parent with money management
Power of attorney: A detailed and strictly constructed legal document that gives you explicitly stated measures of financial authority.3  A durable power of attorney lets you handle the financial matters of another person immediately. A springing power of attorney only takes effect when a medical diagnosis confirms that person’s mental incompetence. It is wise to get a durable power of attorney before your parent is unable to make financial decisions; many investment firms require the original account owner to sign a form to allow another party access to an account owner’s invested assets.4 

Conservatorship:  If mom or dad can’t make competent financial decisions, you or your parent can initiate a request for conservatorship with a family law attorney.  If the need is more immediate, you or your family’s attorney may petition the court. In either case, you will need to show documentation that your parent is no longer financially competent. You must provide medical documentation of his or her dementia  as well.
The court will interview the involved parties, look at the documentation and perform a background check on the proposed conservator. This is all pursuant to a hearing at which the court presents its decision. If conservatorship is granted, the conservator assumes control of some or all of the protected party’s income and assets.5

Conservatorships differ from guardianships. A guardianship gives a guardian control over many aspects of a protected person’s life. A conservatorship limits control to the management of the protected person’s assets and financial affairs.5

Information to locate:

  • Income sources: Social Security, pensions, investments, etc.
  • Wills, deeds and trust documents.
  • Designated beneficiaries:  IRAs, insurance policies, etc.
  • The members of mom’s or dad’s financial team: investment advisor, accountant, etc.
  • Crucial numbers: checking and savings accounts, investment accounts, insurance policies, PIN numbers and Social Security numbers.
  • Medical information: medical history, doctors, prescriptions, etc.

These types of conversations can be very difficult to initiate.  Please contact our office or check  our Facebook page for more information.

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Citations.
1 - www.alz.org/downloads/facts_figures_2011.pdf [2011]
2 - money.usnews.com/money/blogs/planning-to-retire/2010/07/22/predicting-your-own-life-expectancy [7/22/12]
3 - www.law-business.com/powers-of-attorney [4/27/12]
4 - http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/managing-your-parents-money.html [4/27/12]
5 - dhs.sd.gov/gdn/guardianshipfaqs.aspx [6/2/12]