Protecting an Elderly Parent

Protect elderly parent from conservatorships

I had a long time client, Betty*, who was 73 years old and a very happy, charming retiree. Her daughters, ages 56 and 54, are an architect and an accountant, respectively. They had children of their own and the whole family got along very well.  Betty came to see me about once every two years to update her estate plan and ensure things were “all right.”

Then one day, Betty came in with her two daughters. Her daughters explained that Betty had been making strange purchases lately, and had paid for a new roof on her house even though the existing roof was fine. Betty admitted her frustration with not being able to remember some of these transactions, or why she agreed to them at all.   The family was clearly concerned about Betty’s ability to conduct her own financial affairs, and since one of the daughters lived out of state, much of the burden fell onto the other daughter to watch over Betty. When Betty went in for a doctor’s visit, she was diagnosed with dementia and early stage Alzheimer’s. I talked to the family about how to protect her finances, and what steps were needed to allow her daughters to help their mother keep up with her day-to-day living expenses.

Fortunately, Betty already had a comprehensive estate plan in place that accounted for a situation just like this. Using the documents that she already signed, I was able to assist her daughters in acting as Betty’s attorneys-in-fact. They were able to help her handle her daily expenses and to ensure that the assets remained intact for Betty’s benefit.

* Identities have been changed to protect client’s privacy

A Message from Shirley

Becoming forgetful and absent-minded as we age is something many people joke about, but what happens when that forgetfulness becomes something more serious - and someone’s parent is diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s disease? What if that elder, who is diagnosed with such a condition, erratically spends their money or becomes the subject of potential financial elder abuse? In these situations, it is important to have the proper estate planning documents in place, such as Durable Powers of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directives, allowing loved ones to help their aging parents manage their finances and healthcare when the time comes. Depending on the situation, Medi-Cal Planning may also be required.