Your financial advisor: a trusted partner after a dementia diagnosis

Your financial advisor: a trusted partner after a dementia diagnosis

Key steps after a dementia diagnosis

Receiving a dementia diagnosis is devastating, for you and your family. Not only does it affect your health, it also can have serious financial consequences. As your financial advisor, we are a trusted partner – and will collaborate with you and your family to ensure your financial plan is secure.

The sooner the planning process begins, the more control you can have over how you want your finances to be managed.

There are several steps we can take together now to make sure your wishes are communicated, heard and respected.

Step 1: Review legal plans

If you don’t have directives that address your health, financial management or end of life wishes, we can create them together.

Common legal documents are:

Power of attorney (POA) for all provinces except Quebec

This legal document allows someone to make decisions on your behalf or sign legal papers if you’re no longer able to do so, or no longer want to. There are two basic types of POA:

  1. Property: A continuing power of attorney for property allows the person you choose to manage your finances and property, including pension-related matters, if you become mentally incapable.
  2. Personal care: An attorney for personal care makes medical and other decisions about your well-being and quality of life on your behalf if you can’t make them yourself.

Legal documents in Quebec

In Quebec, there are two types of legal documents that allow you to appoint someone to act on your behalf: a POA and a protection mandate

  1. A POA applies only to property and allows someone to make decisions regarding your assets. It’s essentially a contract that allows you to choose another person to act on your behalf in legal transactions. The POA generally will become invalid if you are no longer able to supervise its execution. At this point, the protection mandate comes into effect.
  2. A protection mandate is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions on your behalf. You can name a mandatory for property (which covers financial decisions regarding your assets), and a mandatory for person (covers personal care, medical and health decisions). You should also name a replacement in case your initial mandatory is unable or unwilling to execute the mandate. Two important conditions must be met for a protection mandate to come into force: 
  • Your incapacity must be confirmed in medical and psychosocial assessments
  • The person you have appointed must ask the court to authorize enforcement of the mandate. This process is called homologation and is undertaken by a lawyer or notary.

Will. A document that states how your property and assets should be divided after your death.<p>
Advance care plan. Find out if your province/territory has legal documents regarding planning for future health care.

Step 2: Compile important financial documents

Gather all important financial papers and store them in one place, together with your will and POA, so that a trusted family member knows the location and any instructions.

Financial documents may include:

•    Bank and brokerage accounts
•    Mortgage or ownership documents
•    Insurance policies
•    Monthly or regular bill payments
•    Pension statements
•    Stock or bond certificates 

Step 3: Schedule a meeting with us

It’s particularly important to include your trusted family member(s) or caregiver in our discussion about the financial impact of your diagnosis. Together we will talk about your wishes for future care, and model associated costs into your overall wealth plan.

As part of this conversation, we’ll also address your will and power of attorney – adjusting if needed or creating these important legal documents if you haven’t yet created them. We can also partner with your caregiver or trusted family member to develop a plan to protect you from fraud or financial abuse.

If you have an existing life insurance policy, we can review the waiting period and other terms that could determine when the benefit payments can begin, as well as make sure that you have designated the appropriate beneficiaries. Note that your POA for property is not permitted to make beneficiary changes on your behalf. 

Step 4: Our written plan

If you wish, we can create a written plan that outlines the specific steps you’d like us to take when addressing any noticeable instances of cognitive decline or changes. This may include contacting your POA or caregiver and working with them to ensure your finances are safe and protected.

We can help reduce your financial stress

A cognitive diagnosis often means financial planning gets pushed aside; reduce stress and fear about your financial future by planning ahead.

Is it time to transfer responsibility to a POA?

Only a qualified healthcare provider, like your family physician, can help you recognize whether you are experiencing significant cognitive decline. However, if you are concerned about your ability to manage your finances, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Am I having a hard time staying on top of my financial obligations?
  • Have I missed bill payments?
  • Am I worried about overspending?
  • Have I made purchases I don’t remember?
  • Do I find it difficult to make decisions about my finances?

If the answer to these is yes, let’s talk about starting the process of appointing a POA.