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Question:
My husband has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He has become quite forgetful, but is still in the early stages. We both agree that we should put our affairs in order. The problem is that we don’t know where to start. Do you have any ideas for us?
Answer:
You and your husband face a very difficult situation. The best advice I can give is that you plan sooner rather than later. There are a number of things that you and your husband should be thinking about. I will address a couple of the most important.
First, your husband should execute a Durable Power of Attorney while he is sufficiently competent to do so. A Durable Power of Attorney appoints someone to act as his agent or attorney-in-fact, to take care of necessary financial, banking, tax, legal, and other matters if he is unable to do so. Executing a Power of Attorney now may save the need of going to court for a conservatorship in the future.
Second, your husband should complete an Advance Directive for Health Care. This is a legal document in which a person names a health care representative and can also state the type of health care treatment he wishes to receive if he can no longer make decisions himself. This again may save the need of going to court for a guardianship in the future.
You also need to consult an Elder Law attorney concerning your estate plans and long term care options. This would include advice regarding Medical Assistance Rules and payment for long term care costs should your husband require care in the future. You need a plan in place that provides for your husband’s care should you predecease him. At the same time, should you die before your husband, you would avoid having your joint estate pass to your husband directly if he is incapacitated.