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September 13, 2023

Protecting Loved Ones with Dementia: Key Legal Documents Explained

When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, you’ll receive a lot of advice. One piece often given is, “you need a Power of Attorney.” Indeed, that is among the legal documents you need.

I offer Powers of Attorney for Finance, Powers of Attorney for Healthcare, as well as Living Trusts, which are specifically designed to address the scenario: “What if you don’t die but can’t take care of yourself due to dementia?” You indeed need comprehensive planning, and obtaining a Power of Attorney is solid advice.

I’m warning my clients that they need documents I can’t provide. The IRS and the Veteran’s Administration have their specific Power of Attorney forms, and both insist that their forms are signed. I advise my clients to acquire these forms and sign them. Unfortunately, even though California law requires banks and other financial institutions to accept the Statutory Financial Power of Attorney, several institutions only accept their own forms. Schwab, Vanguard, and Merrill Lynch all have their own forms. Big banks like Bank of America, Citi Bank, Chase, and Wells Fargo notoriously refuse to accept the statutory forms prepared by attorneys, instead offering their customers IDENTICAL forms to sign, distinguished only by their logos. I could take these institutions to court and win, but no one seems to have either the time or the funds to pay me to take them to court.

Therefore, as part of planning for dementia, it’s important to ensure that you have the correct legal documents, in addition to securing all the special Powers of Attorney, to be adequately prepared for dementia.

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Geisler Patterson Law


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