Caring for an elderly family member can become very complicated, especially in the legal department. If you are starting to take care of an elderly family member there are some things you should take care of immediately to make sure you do not run into problems later down the road.
The following documents should be reviewed with you, your family member and an elder law attorney to make sure everything is up to date and in order. This is important especially with dementia patients because once they are deemed unfit to enter a contract these documents will not be able to be completed and can create many problems:
- Living Will
- Power of Attorney
- Joint Ownership of Bank Accounts
- Insurance papers and other important documents
Most of these documents do not require a lawyer, but you will want to contact an elder law attorney for some of these things.
A Will requires an attorney to prepare and is to designate who is entitled to different parts of a person’s estate. If your loved one does not have a Will when they pass, the court can freeze all of the person’s assets until they decide who is entitled to them. If your family member has a Will, make it is up to date. If your loved cannot find their copy of the Will, the lawyer that prepared the Will must keep a copy on file and can be contacted to obtain it.
The next document is a Living Will. This document does not require an attorney to prepare, but an elder law attorney can prepare one for you while you are taking care of the other documents that an attorney must prepare. A Living Will document can be obtained from a doctor’s office and it outlines what type of medical treatment is and is not desired. This can really take some stress out of illnesses because your family member has already decided for you when to use life support and when not to as well as how much medical intervention they desire. Make sure you make several copies of the Living Will when the document is complete so that you can give it to the doctors that your family member sees and to have several copies on hand to take to the hospital in case of hospitalization. The latter is especially important because if certain types of care are administered there is usually a waiting period for that care to be removed or for it to run its course.
AÂ Power of Attorney requires an attorney to prepare and this document gives the caregiver the legal right to make financial, medical and other types of legal decisions for a person should they become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. This is important to get signed immediately so that you do not run the risk of your family member becoming incapacitated before this document is signed.
Becoming a joint owner of bank accounts may not be as important if there is a spouse that is still living, but it is a good idea to become a joint owner of bank accounts in case both people become incapacitated close together. This will allow you to sign checks to pay bills for your family member. This will become especially important with dementia patients who will no longer be able to track and pay bills on their own.
Lastly, you should know where all important papers are kept. Things like insurance policies, investments and the deed to their house are important documents to be able to locate. Also, it is a good idea to make sure that you know what type of supporting documents you will need for things like insurance policies and withdrawing from investment accounts if necessary. This is a good time to make sure beneficiaries on insurance policies and investments are up to date because beneficiaries listed on these accounts overrule what a Will says. While you are getting a power of attorney drawn up, it is a good idea to bring these documents with you to make sure you understand everything in them and to make sure that copies are kept with the will and other legal documents to make finding these documents easier later.
Even if you do not need documents drawn up, it is still a good idea to talk to an elder law attorney to make sure everything is in place so that end of life care and estate issues go smoothly. This will take a lot of stress of off you and your family if something happens.
Does this article make you want to check up on your own files or documents? Elder law does vary from state to state, the office of Adam Roa is a preferred forÂ Elder Law MD. No matter what location you are in, a professional attorney is worth finding if you want peace of mind from knowing all your assets are in place no matter what happens.