Any family faced with helping a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease has a number of challenges ahead. In The Wall Street Journal's "Voices: Consider Trusteed IRAs for Clients With Alzheimer's," the article suggests that frank discussions must begin to address a number of concerns for the present and the future. Issues include care and treatment, wishes for care when the person can no longer speak for themselves, determining who will manage finances, estate planning and how a spouse will be supported during the loved one's illness—however long it may last.
Many of those with an Alzheimer's diagnosis really are concerned with not becoming a financial or practical burden on their family. Loved ones can encourage them to see an elder law attorney to help them organize and designate their assets early, so that they will ensure appropriate distribution before they're not able to manage their money directly.
One option is known as a trusteed IRA. Unlike a traditional individual retirement account, this will lay the groundwork for a third party to assume fiduciary responsibility on the senior's behalf. That trusted person can grant the senior's requests for future purchases and bill payments. For estate planning, a trusteed IRA permits the account holder to better manage where his or her funds will end up by designating a limited distribution schedule and chain of beneficiaries. Individuals with an Alzheimer's diagnosis can be assured that their children, upon inheriting an IRA, won't be able to spend the funds all at once or pass them on to another beneficiary.
Speak with an elder lawyer who has experience working with families coping with Alzheimer's disease. Addressing the financial and legal aspects for the future will give the person and the family a small measure of relief. The goal is to allow the Alzheimer's patient and the family to devote their energies to focus on their loved ones.
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