If you are the caretaker for your elderly loved one, you want to make sure that they have the most appropriate legal support possible. If you are like many other people, you may not understand exactly what that entails and even which questions you need to ask. If you are at the beginning of the process of helping your loved one to get things in order, the amount of information that you don’t know may be quite overwhelming.
Some of the important questions that you will probably need to resolve are:
- Does your loved one need an attorney?
- How much will an attorney charge?
- What can your loved one do if they can’t afford an attorney?
- Once the will has been written for your loved one, is there anything else that you need to do?
What decisions will I need to make on behalf of my loved one?
A lot of what you end up having to do depends on the physical and mental state of your loved one. Many of the decisions that you will need to make on behalf of your loved one will be financial decisions. Some other important decisions will be concerning health care. The final type of decision that you will need to make is concerning what needs to happen after your loved one passes away. It will make the situation much easier to handle with an attorney by your side.
It is very important that you and your loved one communicate effectively with one another before crises arise so that everyone understands what they need to do once things have gotten more difficult.
What do I need to do as the caregiver to plan the estate properly?
Estate planning is of great importance for your loved one while they are alive and for you and the family after your loved one has passed. You will want to have everything in the estate plan in order and make sure that the proper documents are a part of the estate plan. Those documents are a Durable Power of Attorney, or DPOA, Health Care Proxy and a Do Not Resuscitate, or DNR, order. Let’s look at the specifics of these documents:
- Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA): A Durable Power of Attorney allows a person (or people) to act on behalf of the elderly person. Exactly what that means will be stated in the document. The person named in the DPOA can exercise their rights immediately and the document is in effect even if the elderly person becomes incapacitated. Most often, the document covers real estate, financial and banking transactions, family and personal maintenance, benefits from the government, beneficiary transactions and estate trust(s).
- Health Care Proxy: This is a document that states the loved one’s wishes in the event of an accident or an illness. If that should happen, your loved one may not be able to communicate so their wishes must be written down before that happens. With a health care proxy, a person (a health care agent) can be designated in the event that the elderly person is incapable of making certain decisions for themselves. The health care proxy will only go into effect if a doctor determines in writing that the elderly person becomes incapacitated and can no longer communicate their health care decisions.