My spouse has Alzheimer’s – Now what?

Posted on: April 20th, 2015 by Mark R. Friedman

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is a difficult thing. If your husband or wife has just received one, you may be feeling overwhelming and lost, wondering what to do next.

When someone has early or mid-stage Alzheimer’s, there is a good chance they will need long term care in the near future. With most NJ nursing homes costing $10,000 / month or more, it’s very important for the spouse to take measures to protect himself / herself from long term care costs.

If your spouse has early Alzheimer’s, you should immediately make sure he has a good Power of Attorney document. That is because protecting against long term care costs often involves transferring assets, selling property or making purchases. Having a Power of Attorney means that someone else can manage your spouse’s property if he loses the mental capacity to manage it himself, which often happens as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. Once your spouse loses capacity to understand what he is signing, he can no longer create a Power of Attorney, so it’s important to do it now.

It is also usually a wise idea to update your will, to leave the smallest amount possible to your spouse. Likewise, joint property and beneficiary designations should be changed accordingly. That is because if your spouse is getting long term care, any property that goes to him when you die will be eaten up by long term care costs. Most people prefer that when they die, their property go to their children instead of their spouse’s nursing home, so it is wise to update your estate plan.

Beyond those immediate steps, after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it’s a good idea to consider long term care planning. That involves qualifying for Medicaid to pay for your spouse’s long term care, while preserving as much of your assets and income as possible. Long term care planning can be the difference between maintaining your lifestyle and becoming impoverished, and typically, the earlier you start planning, the more you can save.

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be difficult and overwhelming, but FriedmanLaw is here to make things slightly easier. Call or email us today.

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Homepage photo: Cows grazing at Meadowbrook Farm, Bernardsville, NJ by Siddharth Mallya. October 23, 2012.
Interior photo: Somerset hills pastoral scene by Lawrence Friedman.