I was not happy with some of the doctors we dealt with. They were all fine practitioners, but they were also hesitant to put in writing that Dad should not drive or manage his finances. In Florida, you can tell the DMV about an incompetent driver and the department will look into it. One doctor said he would write the letter for the department. After two weeks, we learned from the umpteenth follow-up call that the office manager had given up asking the doctor to sign it.

When we finally got ahold of the doctor, he said upon reflection he couldn’t write the letter because he had not observed Dad driving. Fair enough, but if that’s the case, he should have told us up front so we didn’t have to keep asking for a letter that was not coming.

Mom finally reported Dad to the DMV herself. When he fell asleep during the interview with the department, the state rescinded his license. He still tried to drive. He even snuck out of the house when Mom went to take a shower. We eventually persuaded Dad to “loan” the car to my nephew for the summer, and the car never came back.

When it came time for the two letters to remove him as trustee, the first letter that arrived wasn’t from the physician. It was signed by a social worker. It stated that Dad was under the doctor’s care and that Dad shouldn’t manage his own finances, but it was not an attestation from the doctor. Heck, the social worker didn’t even say that the doctor found my father to be incompetent. It read as though that were her opinion. Cleaning that up took extra time.

With respect to his physical care, Dad wanted to stay at home as long as possible, and Mom wanted him home too. The care plan was that as he declined we would increase the level of care accordingly. We had our sights on where he would go when it was too much for Mom. We knew what to do, but assessing when to do it was difficult at times, even excruciating.

There was a period during which Dad was not so bad off that he needed to go into assisted living, but he was bad enough that part-time home health care wasn’t cutting it either. The home care got him bathed, groomed, fed and medicated and it gave Mom some respite and help around the house, but he would be up all night. She would awaken every morning to some kind of mess. She worried constantly and didn’t sleep well.

Three things got us through our experience. We had the documents we needed, my sisters and I were willing and able to help out, and Mom had others that could physically help or provide emotional support.

My recommendation to any financial planner who has clients with a dementia/Alzheimer’s diagnosis is to talk with the caregivers in the household about these issues and help them connect with support services in their area. They are going to need them no matter how good the financial and estate planning may be.          


Dan Moisand, CFP, has been featured as one of America’s top independent financial advisors by Financial Planning, Financial Advisor, Investment Advisor, Investment News, Journal of Financial Planning, Accounting Today, Research, Wealth Manager, and Worth magazines. He practices in Melbourne, Fla. You can reach him at www.moisandfitzgerald.com.