How To Make Sure Your Elderly Parents Are Legally Set For Life

elderly parents with their children posing for a family picture outdoors
  •  Granting Power of Attorney allows trusted individuals to make financial and health decisions for elderly parents.
  • Adult guardianship, assigned by the court, ensures legal care for the elderly incapable of self-care.
  • Estate planning through wills and trusts safeguards the distribution of parents’ assets as per their wishes.
  • Regularly updating and understanding legal documents can prevent future financial and medical care issues.

Taking care of elderly parents can be a challenging and emotional experience. It requires a great deal of patience and understanding but also careful planning and preparation. One of the most critical aspects of ensuring that your elderly parents are taken care of is taking legal measures that will take care of their well-being. This blog post will discuss some of the critical legal actions you can take to ensure that your elderly parents are set for life.

Power of Attorney

The first legal measure you can take is to grant power of attorney to a trusted family member or friend. This will allow them to make decisions on behalf of their elderly parents if they become unable to do so on their own. This can be important in situations where your parents are unable to make financial or medical decisions due to health issues or declining mental faculties. Here are the examples:

Financial Power of Attorney

A Financial Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows an individual (known as the principal) to appoint someone they trust (known as the agent) to manage their financial affairs. This can include decisions regarding their property, investments, taxes, and bills. This becomes particularly useful in cases where the elderly person becomes incapacitated or is unable to manage their own finances due to cognitive decline or illness.

Health Care Power of Attorney

A Health Care Power of Attorney, also known as a Health Care Proxy, is a legal document that allows an individual to appoint an agent to make health care decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so. This can include decisions regarding medical treatment, end-of-life care, and decisions about long-term care facilities. This becomes especially significant in scenarios where the elderly person is unable to communicate their medical preferences due to severe illness or incapacitation.

Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney is an essential legal document that remains active even if the individual becomes incapacitated. It combines the powers of both the Financial Power of Attorney and the Health Care Power of Attorney. When a Durable Power of Attorney is in place, the appointed agent has the authority to make both financial and health-related decisions on behalf of the principal. This can include paying bills, investing money, selling property, and making decisions about medical treatment and care.

woman talking to a lawyer regarding a power of attorney

Adult Guardianship

Adult guardianship is a formal legal process where the court appoints an individual to care for an elder who is no longer capable of taking care of themselves. This guardian, typically a trusted family member or a professional, has the legal authority to make decisions concerning the elder’s personal, financial, and health matters.

Due to the complexity of the guardianship process, it’s advisable to seek the assistance of a trusted adult guardianship lawyer who can guide you through the legal intricacies and ensure the guardian appointed is acting in the best interests of your elderly parents.

Furthermore, if the guardianship is contested by other family members, a lawyer can also provide advice and assistance in resolving the dispute.

adult guardianships with woman hugging her elderly parent

Wills and Trusts

Having a will in place is vital for ensuring that your parent’s assets are distributed according to their wishes. Additionally, a trust can be established to provide for the care and support of a surviving spouse or other family members in the event of your parent’s death. Here are tips to follow:

Get Professional Help

It is essential to consult with a lawyer experienced in estate planning who can advise you on the best way to structure your parent’s will and trust. They will be able to advise on the current laws in your state, as well as any tax implications associated with establishing a trust.

Update Regularly

In order to make sure that your parent’s will and trust are up-to-date, it is essential to review them regularly. This will give you the opportunity to update any changes in personal or financial circumstances or add any additional beneficiaries.

Educate Yourself

It is crucial for both you and your parents to be familiar with the legal documents that are in place. There are plenty of resources available online, as well as lawyers who can provide advice about wills and trusts.

Taking care of elderly parents can be a challenging and emotional experience. It requires careful planning, patience, and understanding. By taking the legal measures discussed in this post, you can ensure that your elderly parents are taken care of both financially and medically. Remember, it is never too early to start planning for the future. Taking action now can help you and your elderly parents have peace of mind and a sense of security for the years to come.

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