If you are caring for an aging parent, you may also be managing their financial, medical and legal affairs – or at least trying to. Establishing or updating powers of attorney, wills and trust, healthcare proxies can be very confusing if you’re never had end-of-life conversations with your parents. In most families, there are many other factors to consider when caring for aging parents:
• Out of state siblings who want to be involved, but are physically distant
• Parents who are declining in their physical or mental health, and may be resistant
• Unplanned expenses and financial issues
• Transportation needs for doctors appointments, grocery shopping, hair appointments and social activities
• Difficult decisions that must be made
Legal documents that should be in place to help you care for aging parents are:
1. Power of Attorney
If your parent becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themself, a POA is a legal document that appoints somebody to make decisions on their behalf. With a financial POA, you’d be saying who can call a bank or pay a bill on your behalf. A health care POA says who can communicate with your parents’ medical team and make decisions regarding their care.
2. Will or Trust
A will is instructions for how someone wants their assets to be distributed after their death, and who they want to manage their estate. A trust is also legal instructions on how someone wants their assets managed, but it can be put into effect while the person is alive, called a living trust, or after their death.
3. Advance Health Care Directive
An advanced healthcare directive is a legal document that states how someone wants their end-of-life care to be handled, assuming that they are unable to participate in their own decision-making.
Many of these forms are available for free on the internet. If you are responsible for the care of a parent, an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney can provide invaluable advice and help guide you to resources and information that you may have not discovered on your own. An estate planning attorney has valuable information on how to limit probate expenses, and how to make sure your wishes are legally enforceable in your state.
Elder law attorneys handle a wide range of legal issues that affect the elderly and their families including estate planning, health care power of attorney, long-term care planning, retirement, public benefits, and guardianship. The problems people face as they age may be very different from the issues
• Estate planning, which may entail drafting wills, establishing trusts, tax planning, and other techniques.
• Helping avoid the need for guardianship through the durable powers of attorney
• Planning for future housing, medical, and other needs
• Assisting with business and property succession plans
• Advising about guardianship when someone becomes incapacitated
• Pursuing personal injury or other claims against negligent nursing homes or others
Estate planning attorneys provide legal advice and assistance to help individuals prepare for the future. Effective estate planning often involves numerous elements, all of which a qualified Lombard attorney could assist with. These could include:
• Writing or revising a last will and testament
• Establishing trusts to protect and preserve assets
• Estate, gift, and income tax planning
• Life insurance planning
• Business succession planning
• Advance medical directives
• Powers of attorney
Do you have questions about protecting your aging parents? Our experienced elder law attorneys in Lombard, Illinois can advise you on the best options to protect your assets and loved ones. To talk to an estate planning attorney contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-687-9100. We provide legal services in Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties.