Thoughtful planning for any contingency when caring for elderly loved ones, means preparing several legal papers and documents in advance of an emergency. You should speak with them about getting their affairs in order and detailing their wishes on health care, while they’re still of sound mind and body.
Las Cruces Sun-News published an article recently about this topic, “Getting affairs in order,” that suggests if you have siblings or other relatives, you need to think about who will be the health care agent and nominate that person in an Advanced Health Care Directive.
Consider who among you shares similar views and values about life and medical decisions as your loved one. You should also name an alternate agent. The Advanced Health Care Directive allows you to choose the amount of authority the agent will have over their medical care and the types of decisions he or she can make. Make sure that the agent and alternate agent are comfortable with this responsibility. He or she must then complete the legal forms detailing their wishes. Start the process by talking with their doctor and consulting with an elder law attorney.
Failing to plan in advance may result in your inability to gain access to the information you need or to act on your loved one’s behalf, if they’re unable to do so. You can avoid time-consuming and costly court fights by working with your loved one to prepare these documents.
Other important health care documents include:
A durable power of attorney for health care allows you to make health care decisions for your loved one. On the other hand, a durable power of attorney for finances lets you manage your loved one’s financial affairs. A HIPAA release says that you have access to their health records and medical staff.
Another important document is a revocable living trust. This allows your loved one to retain control over their estate, while making transfers of his or her assets to beneficiaries. They select property to go into the trust and who will receive it. During their lifetime, they act as trustees (managers) of their own living trust. A revocable living trust allows the estate to avoid probate at the time of death.
Finally, make sure that a will is prepared that will state who will receive your loved one’s assets and personal property.
Once an attorney has worked with you and your loved one to draft and execute these documents, make sure they’re accessible and in a safe place.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: Las Cruces Sun-News (January 1, 2017) “Getting affairs in order”