Personal finance topics of special interest to the caregiver.

Milestone gifts and other habits to honor

Milestone gifts and other habits to honor


When becoming your loved one’s financial historian, it’s not just about looking after their investments and bank accounts.

Just because someone cannot remember a financial detail does not mean that it isn’t important to him or her.

This may seem obvious when the forgotten detail is of substantial value. No one is going to suggest that the person living with Alzheimer’s will be willing to forego their ownership in a million-dollar business because they can no longer remember that they own it.

However, when it comes to the smaller financial activities, such as the purchase of a birthday gift, some may feel that if the one with dementia cannot remember the occasion then it is no longer necessary for them to give a gift. After all, what they don’t know won’t hurt them – right?

Wrong! The reality is that most who can no longer remember details will still wish that their choices in how they participate in life are continued through to their death as much as is possible.

One of the most effective ways to honor the life of someone with a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer’s is to pay attention to financial details while they are able to manage their affairs. Documenting their financial activities such as donations, allowances and day-to-day spending will help ensure their wishes are continued.

Substantiating their wishes through records and even the formality of receipts or other documents will help protect everyone involved in the financial transaction.

Consider the following when documenting financial behaviors:

  1. What represents typical day-to-day spending?
  2. Are there patterns beyond the day-to-day purchase of necessities – such as placing money in a donation box – that this person participates in?
  3. How particular is the person about home maintenance and are their preferred providers?
  4. Is there an individual who is receiving financial support? Should this support be continued and if so, how long?
  5. Are there milestone gifts, which are typically given? What is the type of gift (e.g. school graduation gifts for each grandchild) and its approximate financial value?
  6. Which charities, if any, and approximate annual amounts, are given?
  7. Is there a service provider that is acknowledged with a regular (annual) financial gift such as a leader from their faith group or their hair dresser?
  8. Are there investment accounts and what are the goals for these accounts? Determine if they are discretionary or non-discretionary and who has power of attorney.
  9. Are there bank accounts and short-term financial products? What are the goals?

When to obtain legal assistance:

Any handling of another person’s money can result in an accusation of mismanagement or abuse, sometimes from unexpected sources.

Consider reviewing the document of financial behaviors with a legal professional before the individual is no longer able to speak on their own behalf. This is especially important if another person is depending on this money for day-to-day living.

For example, there may be a special need within the family (maybe an adult child working through a divorce or with a disability) that results in an individual needing to live rent-free at the home and possibly even receive an allowance. To ensure that there is no interruption to their stable living environment, a legal professional should review this requirement.


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Lee Anne Davies

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