9 Essential Tips For Caring For a Spouse With Alzheimer’s Disease

9 Essential Tips For Caring For a Spouse With Alzheimer’s Disease


Caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease can be an emotionally challenging and physically demanding journey. Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior, making caregiving a complex and delicate task. To navigate this path with grace and compassion, you need guidance and support.

Below are nine essential tips based on valuable insights we’ve gained by helping families and individuals navigate the legal complexities of this disease.

  1. Educate yourself: Understanding Alzheimer’s is the first step in providing effective care. Learn about the disease’s stages, symptoms, and available resources to better anticipate your spouse’s needs.
  2. Seek legal and financial guidance: Consult with our legal team—or a trsuted estate planning and elder law firm in your area—to establish necessary documents, such as a durable power of attorney, wills, and advance healthcare directives. Planning ahead can help protect your and your spouse’s assets, and ensure their wishes are respected.
  3. Establish a routine: Creating a structured daily routine can provide stability and reduce anxiety for both you and your spouse. Consistency is key with Alzheimer’s care.
  4. Foster open communication: While your spouse may struggle with verbal communication, encourage non-verbal expressions like gestures, facial expressions, and touch. Maintain eye contact and show patience when trying to understand their needs.
  5. Safety first: Ensure that your home is a safe environment. Install locks, alarms, and remove any potential hazards that could harm your spouse.
  6. Respite care: Don’t hesitate to seek help from professionals or trusted family and friends to provide you with a much-needed break from time to time. Caregiver burnout is a real concern, and taking time for self-care is essential.
  7. Focus on nutrition: A well-balanced diet is crucial for maintaining physical and cognitive health. Consult a nutritionist if necessary, and ensure your spouse receives proper nourishment.
  8. Embrace support groups: Joining a local Alzheimer’s support group can offer emotional support and a sense of community. Sharing experiences with others in similar situations can be invaluable.
  9. Adapt and be patient: Understand that your spouse’s behavior may change unpredictably. Be adaptable and patient, and try to find joy in small moments of connection.

Caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s is challenging, but with the right resources, support, and guidance, you can provide the best care possible. The nine tips above will help you navigate the day-to-day challenges with love and compassion, and the team at Miller Estate and Elder Law can offer legal guidance and support along your journey with this disease. 

Contact Miller Estate and Elder Law

Remember, you are not alone, and seeking help is a sign of strength and dedication to your spouse’s well-being. Call us at (256) 251-2137 to discuss your legal needs, or get in touch with us by completing the brief form below.

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What Could Happen if Your College Student Doesn’t Sign a POA?

What Could Happen if Your College Student Doesn’t Sign a POA?

As the new academic year begins, parents across the country are making sure their college-bound students have everything they need for a successful start. From textbooks and laptops to dorm essentials, the back-to-school checklist can be overwhelming. However, there’s one crucial item that often goes overlooked: a Power of Attorney (POA).

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that grants someone the authority to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions. Many college students are young adults—excited to embark on their journey of independence—and might not consider the importance of such a document. However, the reality is that unforeseen accidents or illnesses can happen at any time, and having a POA in place provides peace of mind knowing that someone they know and trust has the authority to make medical, financial, and legal decisions on their behalf.

So, what could happen if your college student doesn’t sign a POA? Let’s explore some potential scenarios:

Important medical decisions could be made by someone they don’t trust

If your college student is unable to communicate their medical preferences due to an accident or illness, the state of Alabama will turn to their next of kin: since most college students won’t have a spouse or any adult children, medical care providers will likely turn to parents first, then adult siblings, and then other adult relatives. While this may not sound like a worst-case-scenario situation, family dynamics are often complicated. Maybe the student doesn’t trust that their parents will make decisions along their guidelines, or perhaps they haven’t spoken with their estranged adult sibling in many years. Having a signed POA ensures that an agent of their choosing can make healthcare decisions on their behalf.

Their bills may not get paid

Without a POA, it can be difficult—if not altogether impossible—to gain access to a student’s bank account, or to pay their bills and access other financial assets. This could mean college tuition doesn’t get paid, rent falls to the wayside, they lose access to subscription services, and they incur mounds of late penalties that—for a broke college student—can be a difficult hole to crawl out of.

Academic matters won’t be properly addressed

In case of incapacitation, a POA agent can assist with academic-related issues, like handling course enrollments, communicating with professors, or accessing educational records. Without a POA, your student may miss important deadlines, which could negatively impact their entire academic trajectory.

Legal matters will be left unresolved

If a student becomes incapacitated due to a car accident or other incident with legal ramifications, it’s crucial that a trusted agent has the authority to sign legal documents on their behalf. A signed POA ensures that someone will be able to handle legal affairs on behalf of your college student.

Parents may not be able to access information about their student

We know your student will always be your baby, but once they reach the age of majority, their personal information becomes private—yes, even to you! Without a POA, parents or loved ones may encounter hurdles in obtaining information about their college student’s well-being and current circumstances.

Encouraging your college student to sign a Power of Attorney doesn’t mean they are relinquishing control. Instead, it provides a safety net and peace of mind for everyone involved. Consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure the POA document is customized to your student’s unique needs and state regulations.

While college can be an exciting and transformative time, it’s also essential to prepare for the unexpected. By adding a Power of Attorney to your back-to-school checklist, you are safeguarding your college student’s future and ensuring that their well-being and interests are protected no matter what life throws their way.

Contact Miller Estate and Elder Law

For more information regarding POAs and how to get started, contact our team by giving us a call at (256) 251-2137 or contact us via the brief form below.

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Don’t Send Your College Student Off to Campus Without These 3 Legal Documents

Don’t Send Your College Student Off to Campus Without These 3 Legal Documents


Estate planning isn’t usually a top priority for college students. In fact, for most incoming freshmen (and returning sophomores, juniors, and seniors…) estate planning doesn’t even crack the top 10 priorities on their list. However, there are certain legal documents that everyone over the age of majority really should have in place, and the implications of not having these documents in place can be quite dire. Below we will outline 3 legal documents that every college student needs.

It’s important to remember that your college student isn’t just embarking on an academic journey; they are heading out into the world to explore their independence. Once they reach the age of majority—18 in most states, and 19 in Alabama—you will lose many of the parental rights you once had. Without certain legal documents in place, you will not have access to their medical records, or be able to make medical or financial decisions on their behalf.

To protect your college-aged child, these are the 3 legal documents that every college student needs.

Healthcare Proxy

A healthcare proxy—also known as a medical power of attorney or advanced healthcare directive—is a legal document that allows a named agent to make medical decisions on your child’s behalf, should they become incapacitated. For college students who are living away from home, this document is essential in ensuring that someone they trust will be responsible for making medical decisions on their behalf, should they become unable to make their own decisions. The healthcare proxy should clearly outline the appointed agent’s authority to make medical decisions, and the types of medical treatments the student is willing to accept or refuse.

Having a healthcare proxy can provide peace of mind to both the college student and their family. The student can trust that they will receive medical care along their own guidelines, while the parent can rest assured that they—or another trusted loved one—will be able to make important decisions on their child’s behalf, should tragedy strike.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney grants an authorized third party the authority to manage your student’s financial affairs, and otherwise make financial decisions on their behalf. This document becomes crucial if the college student faces a medical emergency and is unable to pay bills or conduct legal transactions due to incapacitation.

Whether it’s managing bank accounts, paying bills, or handling rental agreements, a durable power of attorney ensures that someone capable and reliable will oversee these important matters. Most students choose a parent, guardian, or close family member to hold this responsibility.

HIPAA Authorization

Due to HIPAA regulations, if your child is over the age of majority, you will not be able to access their medical records unless they proactively signed a HIPAA authorization. A blanket HIPAA authorization can be included as part of the healthcare proxy, or signed as its own independent document.

College students may feel invincible in their youth, but unforeseen circumstances can occur at any age. Estate planning is a responsible step that every adult should take to protect themselves and their assets, even if you don’t have much in the way of cash, real estate, or property. By drafting these three essential legal documents—a healthcare proxy, a durable power of attorney, and a HIPAA authorization—college students can ensure their wishes are respected, their medical care is managed appropriately, and their financial affairs will be taken care of, even if they are not able to do so themselves.

It’s crucial to consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure that the right documents are in place, and that they are legally sound and tailored to your student’s unique needs. With these important documents in place, college students can focus on their, ahem, studies…with added confidence and security.

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Looking to learn more? Do not hesitate to give us a call at (256) 251-2137 or contact us via the brief form below.

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7 Questions and Answers on Estate Planning for Second Marriages

7 Questions and Answers on Estate Planning for Second Marriages


Estate planning is a crucial step for everyone—regardless of marital status. However, when it comes to second marriages, it becomes even more important to carefully consider your estate planning decisions. Second marriages often involve complex family dynamics, multiple sets of children, and various financial considerations that can greatly impact the distribution of assets after one’s passing. To ensure your wishes are respected and your loved ones are taken care of, here are 7 answers to common questions on estate planning for second marriages.

1. Should I update my estate plan after getting remarried?

Absolutely! Remarrying is a significant life event that necessitates a review and potential revision of your estate plan. Failing to update your plan can result in unintended consequences—such as assets being distributed contrary to your wishes or excluding your new spouse or stepchildren from inheriting. Take the time to reassess your estate plan and make the necessary adjustments.

2. How can I protect my assets for my children from a previous marriage?

When entering a second marriage, you may have children from your previous marriage whom you wish to provide for. A carefully crafted estate plan can help protect your assets and ensure they are passed on to your children as intended. Options such as setting up a trust or using a prenuptial agreement can help safeguard your children’s inheritance.

3. What happens if I don’t have a prenuptial agreement?

In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, your state laws will dictate how your assets are divided upon your death or divorce. These laws may not align with your wishes or protect the interests of your children from a previous marriage. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can create a plan that ensures your assets are distributed according to your specific wishes.

4. How can I provide for both my current spouse and my children?

Balancing the needs of your current spouse and your children from a previous marriage can be challenging—utilizing a trust can be an effective solution. A trust can be set up to provide income or support to your spouse during their lifetime while preserving the remaining assets for your children after your spouse’s passing.

5. What if my spouse and I own property together?

Owning property jointly with your spouse can complicate estate planning matters. It’s essential to discuss how you want the property to be distributed upon either of your deaths. Options include structuring joint ownership with rights of survivorship or creating a trust to hold the property and determine its distribution.

6. How can I protect my spouse in case I become incapacitated?

In addition to planning for the distribution of your assets after death, it’s crucial to address potential incapacity during your lifetime. Consider creating a durable power of attorney and a healthcare directive to designate someone you trust to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

7. Where can I find more information and guidance?

Miller Estate and Elder Law offers a valuable resource specifically dedicated to estate planning for second marriages. Access a comprehensive guide and gain further insight into estate planning considerations for second marriages here.

Estate planning for second marriages requires careful thought and consideration. By addressing the unique challenges and complexities that come with blended families, you can ensure that your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are provided for. Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a personalized plan that reflects your goals and protects your family’s future.

The comprehensive resources available at Miller Estate and Elder Law can help you navigate the complexities of estate planning and make informed decisions for your blended family. Contact our office today at (256) 251-2137 or fill out the form below.


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Looking to learn more? Do not hesitate to give us a call at (256) 251-2137 or contact us via the brief form below.

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How to Estate Plan for Children in a Blended Family

How to Estate Plan for Children in a Blended Family


Beginning a new relationship later in your life can be an exciting development. You’ve learned a great deal from past experience—and you’re ready to begin again from a more mature and responsible position. This means that making decisions in your estate planning will be key to building your new life the way you want. However, if either you or your new partner have children, it can create some complications when it comes to providing for your heirs. There are many things to consider when it comes to drafting an estate plan for a blended family. By talking things over with everyone involved, you can ensure that there are no surprises later.

Considerations For Estate Planning in a Blended Family

When it comes to drafting an estate plan for children in a blended family, here are a few important things to consider:

  • All Heirs are Not the Same. It may seem like you must provide for your children and stepchildren in the same way once becoming one big family. However, this is a common misconception. While you may be close with your stepchildren, it’s okay to acknowledge that your relationship with them is not the same as with your own kids. It’s important to protect your children when it comes to crafting your new estate plan and to make sure that everyone is aware of your decisions.
  • You’ll Need to Update Both Your Will and Your Beneficiaries. Any time you marry—whether it’s the first time or the third—you’ll need to significantly alter your estate plan. An entirely new set of circumstances, both personal and legal, are at play. While updating your will may seem like a no-brainer, be sure to look over all of your life insurance, bank, and retirement accounts. You will likely want to update your beneficiaries on these accounts as well.
  • What Happens If One Partner Passes Away First? When you remarry, you will likely have assets that you bring to the marriage. During the marriage, you will also accumulate mutual marital assets. This distinction becomes important should one partner die before the other. If you don’t properly plan for what will happen to both sets of assets, you may find that the wrong person receives property after the partner’s death—for example, a stepchild instead of a biological child.
  • Hiring an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer. It’s essential to hire an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of estate planning. They’ll make the process run as smoothly as possible.

Estate planning in any family can be a complex process, but it becomes even more complicated when you’re in a blended family. At Miller Estate & Elder Law, we understand these unique challenges. Download our free guide and e-book, Estate Planning for Second Marriages—or give us a call at 256-472-1900—to begin protecting your children and family today.


Contact Miller Estate and Elder Law

Looking to learn more? Do not hesitate to give us a call at (256) 251-2137 or contact us via the brief form below.

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