April 2022

Lawyer for Life
 

A dementia diagnosis is a traumatic time for any family. Dementia happens slowly and progressively over time. In the early stages, some symptoms are often thought of as just signs of aging. Beginning signs can be as simple as losing car keys, forgetting where the car is parked, or even forgetting to turn off the oven. Unfortunately, dementia is incurable and progresses over time. It is important to have difficult conversations sooner than later. There are a few things you can do to protect your loved one during this challenging time.

 

Gather Financial Documents

There are several advantages to having all financial documents in one place during an early diagnosis of dementia. Dementia patients usually have difficulty remembering where they put things. It is important to not only put all financial documents in one place, but to also make copies and have them kept with a trusted member of the family. It is a good idea to make a binder that consists of insurance documents, health care wishes, will, power of attorney, bank statements, and car titles. Original documents should be kept in a safe place. It is important to have discussions early on, while your loved one can remember important financial information.

 

Protect Their Assets

Elderly individuals are often a target for financial fraud. A dementia diagnosis could mean even more risk for your loved one. Financial fraud is not always done by strangers. It is important to keep a close watch on new “friends” your loved one starts spending time with. Keep a close watch on their finances to ensure they are not a victim of fraud.

 

Establish a Power of Attorney

Dementia can be scary. Your loved one will likely feel like they are losing control and may be reluctant to freely give their perceived freedoms away. However it is important to create a Power of Attorney. This will allow a trusted loved one to make financial decisions, conduct banking transactions and pay bills when the time comes.

 

Create a Health Care Directive

After a diagnosis such as dementia, it is important to understand your loved ones wishes. Health care, long-term care, and end-of-life treatment are very personal. Every person has different beliefs and concerns regarding what they would like to occur in the event they are not able to make decisions for themselves. These wishes should be very clear and stated in writing. Does your loved one want to be put on life support? Do they want to be resuscitated? Do they prefer an assisted living facility or in-home care? A Health Care Directive will outline the person’s wishes and it will also appoint a person that will make healthcare decisions when the time comes. Be sure to post health care wishes somewhere visible in the house and in your loved one’s wallet, in the event that emergency services are needed.

 

Review Estate Plan

Estate planning in the best of situations can seem overwhelming. There are financial implications for present and future generations. Emotional stressors include preparing for one’s own passing and trying to equitably distribute properties, investments, cash, and family heirlooms. However, when a spouse or loved one begins to suffer from dementia, forming a comprehensive estate plan is more important than ever. A basic understanding of the legal rights of someone suffering from dementia can help smooth the process. Having the trusted advice of an elder law and estate planning attorney can help navigate the process.

 

It is a daunting task to prepare for your child to go to college. Now that the enrollment deposit has been paid, the dorm application is complete, and you’ve purchased their first official college sweatshirt, you can breathe - right? Not necessarily. College is an exciting and emotional time for both parents and students. As parents, we are sometimes so consumed with raising our children, that we tend to see them as just that – children. However, the truth is, in the eyes of the law, the apron strings are cut the moment they turn 18.

 

Any number of emergencies or disputes could arise when a student goes off to college. Issues such as a disagreement with a landlord, a speeding ticket, or heaven forbid – an accident. Parents lose the ability to make medical decisions, financial decisions, or obtain grades and disciplinary information from their child’s school once the child is 18 years old, even if the parents are the ones writing the check. So what does this mean for you and your child?

 

If your student would like for you to continue to be involved in those important decisions, they would need to complete legal documents that would allow you to intercede on their behalf.

 

Here are five important legal documents recommended for your college aged child:

  1. Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) Waiver
  2. Healthcare Power of Attorney
  3. Living Will
  4. HIPAA Release
  5. Financial Power of Attorney

FERPA

The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act transfers the rights of educational information such as transcripts, GPAs, enrollment status, financial aid, and class schedules to the student when they reach the age of 18 (with few exceptions). The FERPA waiver allows the student to appoint a parent (or other adult) to receive educational records and information.

 

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney allows parents the ability to make vital medical decisions if their adult child is incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so.

 

Living Will

A living will outlines the student’s preferences for end-of-life medical care, donating of organs, and life-extending medical treatment in the event they are in a vegetative state for an extended period of time.

 

HIPAA Release

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release authorizes healthcare professionals to release medical information such as diagnosis, medication, treatments, and test results to a designated person(s). Without this authorization, doctors are prohibited from giving this information to parents.

 

Financial Power of Attorney

Once your child reaches the age of 18, their finances also become private. While it is a good idea to set up a joint bank account so that you can deposit money for food, books, and other necessities, it is also important to have a financial or durable power of attorney in place. This will allow the parents to pay bills in the event the student is incapacitated. This also allows parents to be able to renew car registrations, sign titles, or complete financial transactions for students in the event they are unable.

 

These important documents should be completed when your child turns 18 or at the latest, when they leave for college. If the student is going to a college out-of-state, it may be necessary to complete documents that comply with each state’s requirements.

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April is Autism Acceptance Month. A month to celebrate and promote acceptance for the condition that occurs in approximately one in every 54 children in the United States. Autism, a complex developmental condition affecting the patient’s ability to interact, communicate, and progress, has not one but many subtypes.

Autism Acceptance Month

In celebration of Autism Acceptance Month, the team at Cocheco Elder Law Associates honors the contribution of people on the autism spectrum and the autism community to our nation and the world. We join in recognizing the needs of people on the autism spectrum and their families. Our office recognizes the need to support, understand, accept, and empower people on the autism spectrum.