Q&A: Dementia and financial accounts

Dear Liz: You recently discussed the importance of adding spouses to financial accounts before one of them dies to make it easier for the surviving spouse. I wholeheartedly agree. I would add that this needs to be done sooner rather than later. If one of the spouses is diagnosed with dementia, the bank will likely not make changes to accounts. People have to be able to understand what they are signing.

Answer: That’s an excellent point. Another important task is to create powers of attorney for healthcare and finances. These allow someone else to make decisions for you if you are incapacitated. Someone in the early stages of dementia could sign such a document if they understand what it is, but otherwise the family might have to go to court to get a conservatorship, which can be an expensive process.

In case you missed it: “cliff” retirements and how to tell if Mom is losing it

Cliff diverHow can you make up for lost time if you’re approaching retirement age and haven’t saved enough? Adjusting your expectations is the first big step. Read about the others in “Facing the ‘cliff’ of retirement.

The early signs of dementia may not be what you expect. In “How to tell if Mom is losing it,” you can learn the red flags and why it’s so important to get an early diagnosis to save what your parents have left.

Finally, my friend Donna Freedman writes about an intriguing idea Oregon’s lawmakers are considering–waiving tuition for students who promise to pay back 3% of their salaries over 24 years. Read more in “A college degree with no money down.”