Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How money mistakes could signal dementia risks. Also in the news: How to bank when you can’t get to one, will tax bills increase as home values soar, and why tax diversification is a smart investment strategy.

Money Mistakes Could Signal Dementia Risk
Missing bills could mean it’s time to build financial guardrails.

How to Bank When You Can’t Get to a Bank
Online banks, remote customer service, ATM reimbursement and shared branches are all options for consumers.

The Property Line: As Home Values Soar, Should You Brace for Your Tax Bill?
If you’re in a home whose value on paper has been going up, up, up, preparing for the resulting tax bill could bring you back down to earth.

Why ‘Tax Diversification’ Is a Smart Investment Strategy
You’ve heard of portfolio diversification? This is the same thing, but for taxes on your investments.

Money mistakes could signal dementia

Some of the early signs of dementia are financial: forgetting to pay bills, for example, or having trouble calculating a tip. People who develop dementia also are more likely to miss credit card payments and have subprime credit scores years before they’re diagnosed, according to a study published last year in medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to protect the finances and credit rating of a loved one while preserving their dignity and autonomy.

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.”