WALTHAM, MA – Coventry Edwards-Pitt, Managing Director at Ballentine Partners, was quoted in a recent Dow Jones Newswire article: “Making Plans for Dementia” The article discusses how advisors should make dementia part of the planning process with their clients to avoid the potential of the disease derailing estate plans and the division of families.

The best way to tackle the problem is to get in front of it. “You start by making it part of the overall discussion, mainly in the context of estate planning,” says Coventry Edwards-Pitt, a senior client adviser at Waltham, Mass.-based wealth-management firm Ballentine Partners. The topic is “never fun to talk about,” Edwards-Pitt says.

Advisers can work with primary wealth holders to prepare documents for a durable power of attorney, says Edwards-Pitt. As opposed to the more usual “springing” power of attorney, the durable version can be invoked before the subject’s utter incapacitation, which makes it easier for family members to help. But families, specifically heirs, must act together. Edwards-Pitt knows of a case where the heirs — siblings in their forties and fifties — “couldn’t agree on whether their father was losing it.” The disagreement and resulting inaction “messed up the succession plan.” Further, the family’s long-time financial adviser got fired as the old man, still clutching the family’s purse strings, drifted further into the conviction that everyone was out to steal his money.