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Dealing With Aging Parents
Watching your parents as they age is not always easy. You want to help them, without depriving them of their independence or dignity. But, how do you do that? Of course, each situation is different, depending upon the needs, resources, and abilities of those involved. But, planning ahead is essential.
As a first legal step its important your parents seek help from an attorney to put three documents in place
1. Durable Power of Attorney.
This document grants legal rights and powers to another. Someone trusted, such as a spouse or adult child, is chosen to act as agent (sometimes called attorney in fact). In the event of incapacity, a durable power of attorney allows the agent to act on your behalf in financial and business matters.
2. Durable Power of Attorney
for Health Care Decisions.
With this document, if you cant make health care decisions yourself, another person of your choice can make a broad range of decisions for you. These decisions cover virtually everything to do with medical matters, such as selecting doctors, hospitals, treatments, procedures or medications.
3. Health Care Treatment
Directive (Living Will).
This document concerns whether or not life support should be withdrawn in the case of a patient who is terminally ill. It states your wishes regarding this issue.
Without these powers of attorney, a court-appointed guardian may be needed to handle financial matters and a guardian to handle health care decisions. In that event, a court would control your personal and financial life. A judge would have to approve your decisions and expenses. This situation can easily be avoided if you act now.
Regardless of your parents wealth, planning in advance can help smooth the transition from independence to dependence. For example, if your parents assets are in a Revocable Living Trust, you, as trustee, could manage their assets when they become unable to do so. You could serve as trustee with them at first. Then, as they age, the logistics will already be in place for you to take over more responsibility. Your assumption of responsibility might be gradual, with your parents asking you to take care of paying the bills this month. Or your assumption might be more sudden due to changes in their health. Either way, you will be ready and able to handle the situation.
Just as you relied on your parents in your early years, they are relying on you as they face new challenges. A qualified estate planning and elder law attorney can help put plans in place far in advance, so they can have the greatest impact. This way, you will have the tools you need to help your parent age with the comfort of knowing they will be in your responsible hands when the time comes.
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