Alzheimer’s/Debilitating Illness

Alzheimer’s/Debilitating Illness

My mother suffers from Alzheimer's with now no chance to qualify for long-term care insurance. My father has initiated a trust to protect their assets so Medicare can provide for long-term care. Do you have specific resources for similar situations: Asset protection via a trust, in the case of a long-term illness? I am grateful for any resources.


What you need to do is hire an estate planner (not a general practice attorney) and in particular, you should find an estate planner that has a sub-specialty (or at least a meaningful part of his/her practice) in "elder law" planning. The planner may recommend that a gift program be set up to remove assets from your mother's estate (subject to lookback and other rules), a special needs trust be set up in your father's will to protect your mother if your father predeceases, that assets be re-titled in a manner that takes into account assets which are exempt (cannot be reached by governmental programs), etc.

If your mom still has the mental competence to sign legal documents, she should meet immediately with an estate planner, financial planner, and accountant, and get her financial and legal house in order. She should sign a comprehensive power of attorney, living will, health care proxy and perhaps even a revocable living trust. The combination of all these documents, when done properly can avoid the need for her to ever have a guardian appointed. To be safe, however, either a separate guardianship appointment designating the family or friends she would want to serve should be signed, or incorporated into her living will. You might be able to use this estate planner for all the planning, or he/she might send you to an elder law specialist for a consult. Ideally, try to find an attorney that has compassion and sensitivity to what you are going through, as much more is required than merely sterile technical legal documents to help you all.

You should find and join local and national Alzheimer's associations. Sign up for newsletters and other useful resources. The struggle you have ahead is for the entire family, and the more informed and connected you all are the more you'll be able to help your mother and each other. The advice and support you receive will address a wide array of issues beyond merely financial ones.

You should sign up for the newsletter. We'll start sending them out via email shortly. I will be writing a lead article or maybe a special supplement on this issue in the next couple of months.

No matter what, plan for the worst, but stay optimistic and hope for the best. Optimism will help all the family through this. Reach out to others, it will help you all.

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