BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Winter 2018
Steps to protect seniors’ money after dementia
By David Porteous
From page 12
Here are 15 steps to help clients and their loved ones protect their finances. “Dementia” makes it difficult for people to stay on top of their finances, and as the disease progresses they may forget to pay bills, run up accidental debts, become a victim of scammers, or fall out with their loved ones over money misunderstandings.
As soon as possible
1. Everyone should set up a lasting power of attorney (LPA). There are different kinds. The most common is for health and another is for finances. Make sure to get proper legal help in setting up LPAs.
2. Get finances in order. Draw up a list of all the organizations you have accounts with – plus account numbers. You may want to have a positive (money accumulated) and negative list (money owed).
3. Do you have an updated will? If not it’s time to get one.
Straight after early diagnosis
4. Help dementia sufferers automate their day-to-day finances, including paying bills by direct debit.
5. Ask them to contact their Credit Union / Bank and ask for a third-party mandate, so someone can make calls and operate accounts on their behalf.
6. Specific documents that may need to be changed, i.e. passports, driving licenses, and others. Also check with investment companies to see what is needed in case LPA is used.
7. Make sure to stay in frequent communication. This gives the dementia sufferers a chance to raise concerns and puts you in a better position to spot any problems.
If diagnosis comes later or a sufferer deteriorates
8. Register the power of attorney with the proper government office.
9. If you or your loved one haven’t had the chance to set up an LPA, you can apply to the Court to have someone appointed to make financial or welfare decisions. This can be complicated and expensive.
10. You should consider cancelling credit cards, or any overdraft protection. This reduces the risk of being misled into running up debts.
11. To protect against doorstep scammers, put a chain on the door, and make a sign for the back of the door advising them not to open to anyone who doesn’t have an appointment, and to ensure that a family member or friend is with them.
12. Get a call blocker for their phone, which will either block incoming calls that are not from recognized numbers or forward them to a relative or friend.
13. Sign up to the telephone preference service and the mailing preference service to cut down on junk mail and nuisance calls.
14. If the person still wants to manage things like grocery shopping, there’s a risk they will lose track of where they put cash or forget they have spent it. If available, ask the credit union / bank for a chip and signature card so they don’t have to remember a PIN.
15. If only cash will do, it’s best for someone with dementia to take the same amount of money out of the bank on the same day each week. Then bring it home and only take a small sum with them each day. It’s also worth them keeping a cash book, where they note what they spend.
David Porteous is an Elder Planning Counselor, and a charter member of the Canadian Initiative for Elder Planning Studies.