If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with or is fighting Alzheimer's, the future can feel frightening and uncertain. Overwhelming medical costs, complex legal matters, and difficult care decisions loom ahead. However, with proper planning, you can ensure your loved one's wishes and wellbeing are taken care of, while also protecting your home and life savings from long-term care and nursing home costs. Here are five essential estate planning tips you need to know.

Start Planning Early

The earlier you start, the more your loved one can be involved in the process. Also, it helps ensure that they are able to sign and complete important legal documents while they still have capacity. Finally, the sooner long-term care planning is put into place, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to protect your home and savings from long-term care costs.

Create and/or Update Your Financial Power of Attorney

It is vitally important that you have an up-to-date financial power of attorney. Without one, your family may need to petition a court to get the legal authority to manage finances during any period of incapacity. Family members, particularly spouses, mistakenly assume that they can just control everything when their spouse becomes incapacitated. Unfortunately, that is not true. For example, many states require both spouses to sign off to sell real estate. However, if your spouse is now incapacitated, you’ll need to get a conservatorship from a court in order to sign off on behalf of your spouse unless you have authorization via a financial power of attorney. Even if you have one in place, you should have it reviewed by an experienced elder law attorney as we often prepare enhanced versions that include special provisions that can assist in long-term care planning.

Create and/or update Healthcare Proxy, Living Will and Health Care Directives

A healthcare proxy and a living will, also known as a health care directive, are essential. A federal law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or “HIPAAA” makes it illegal for medical staff to share information without a written HIPAA authorization. This means your family may need to petition a court in order to gain access to medical information and to be able to make medical decisions in the event you are unable to express your wishes yourself. That is why it is important to get this completed ahead of time. Also, by documenting your wishes for your health care, it is going to be much less stressful for your family if they ever need to step in and make decisions. It is also less likely that there will be disputes among the family when it comes time to make decisions, as you’ll be able to put your wishes in writing ahead of time.

Bonus Tip: Name Backup Agents for Your Power of Attorney and Health Care Documents

For both your financial power of attorney and health care documents, make sure you name at least one backup agent in the event your primary one is unable or unwilling to act for some reason. 

Update Wills and Trusts

If you do not yet have a will or trust, now is the time to get one in place. Even if you have one, it is important to have it reviewed by an experienced elder law attorney. As odd as it may sound, many wills and trusts have provisions in them that can either cause you to not qualify for Medicaid and other long-term care planning benefits, or to lose those benefits even if you may be currently receiving them. For those reasons, it is important that your will and trust be updated to work with the technical requirements of those laws.

Plan for Long-Term Care Costs

Federal law authorizes specific planning strategies, including specialized trusts, that can protect your home and life savings from long-term care and nursing home costs. These documents are in addition to your current will and trust.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is challenging, but thoughtful planning can provide peace of mind that their health and financial matters are well taken care of.

If you need assistance with planning for a family member with Alzheimer’s, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation. You can contact either our Florida office at (941) 909-4644 or our Minnetonka, MN office at (763) 420-5087, or you can fill out the contact form on this page and a member of our team will reach out to you to schedule a consultation.

If you are not yet ready to schedule a consultation and would like additional information, you can download a copy of my book, “Save Our Home, How to Protect Your Home and Life Savings from Long-Term Care and Nursing Home Costs” and sign up for my free online masterclass where I reveal strategies I use with my private clients by clicking the links below.

Save Our Home How To Protect Your Home and Life Savings from Long Term Care and Nursing Home CostsClick Here to Download Your Copy of My Book.


Save Our Home How to Protect Your Home and Life Savings from Long Term Care and Nursing Home Costs Masterclass Click Here to Sign Up For the Masterclass


Chuck Roulet
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Nationally Recognized Estate Planning Attorney, Author, and Speaker
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