When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia in New York, often family members believe they should become appointed guardian over that individual immediately. They may be unsure about the best way to plan for the eventual incapacity of the individual. They will want to do everything as quickly as possible to make the situation easier when the person is no longer capable of handling his or her own affairs.
However, a guardianship may not be necessary immediately. Instead, individuals who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia and still have mental capacity should prepare a Will, Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy. Those documents will provide where assets should pass once the person passes away, and give designated individuals the power to make financial and health care decisions.
If a person loses capacity before the documents are completed, a guardianship proceeding may be necessary. However, guardianships are time-consuming and may be expensive. They may also result in a person taking control that the individual may not have chosen. It’s much better to do the planning before losing capacity, if possible.
A person with Alzheimer’s or dementia should also consider how best to protect his or her assets from the costs of long-term nursing care. Alzheimer’s or dementia patients are typically unable to live alone. A nursing home may become necessary. Medicaid will cover the costs of a nursing home in some cases for those whose income and assets are below a certain level. Advanced planning can help a person to qualify for Medicaid, while still preserving assets for loved ones.
If you have a loved one in New York who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s critical you take steps now before the individual becomes incapacitated. Call the Western New York Guardianship and Estate Planning Attorneys at Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. at 716-542-5444. We will be happy to help.