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What Documents Should I Have For My Elderly Parent?

As your parents age, they begin to become more dependent on their children. Elderly parents may need help with various tasks, including financial and medical issues. In order to be able to take care of various matters, you will need legal authority. It is best to understand and review the documents you need ahead of time with your parents. There are some essential legal documents that will make it easier for you to handle their needs when the time comes. Documents that you may need include those that are related to finances, health, and the estate.

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is a legal document that provides directions for the distribution of your property and assets after your death. A will is helpful because it gives you information about how your parents wanted to divide their property when they pass away. The will names beneficiaries so you will understand how your parents wished to provide for their loved ones. It prevents disagreements between beneficiaries and gives you guidelines to follow.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney gives you the legal authority to manage the finances of your loved one on their behalf. The power of attorney is helpful because, without it, you may face difficulties trying to have access to your parent’s finances to handle their needs. You may need to take over the finances of your parents while they are in the hospital or unable to do so on their own. You can make payments such as mortgage or rent, pay bills, handle tax matters, and even sell property if you need to do so.

Healthcare Directive

A healthcare directive is a document that defines the medical care wishes of a person. The document is helpful in that it tells you how your parents would like to handle their healthcare under various circumstances. This can take a lot of emotional burden off family members during a time of great stress when a parent is ill. The directive gives direction in the event that your parent is incapacitated or unable to make decisions.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney gives you the legal right to make decisions regarding the health of your loved one. This document becomes necessary when your parent is not able to make these types of decisions due to poor health. In addition, a HIPAA release gives you access to your parent’s health records and the ability to speak to doctors and other medical professionals about your loved one’s health condition and treatment.

Living Trust

A living trust is an arrangement that holds your parent’s property or estate before it gets distributed or transferred to beneficiaries. Your parents will designate property that will specifically be held in trust. Not all property needs to be in the trust. With a revocable living trust, the property owner is the executor while he or she is alive. After death, the property and assets in the trust can be distributed to the heirs. A benefit of a trust is that it may allow you to avoid probate after the death of your loved one.

It is important to speak to your parents about these documents before they become necessary. With these documents in place, you can effectively take over for your loved ones when the time comes. To learn more about estate planning, contact our experienced attorneys at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. at (608) 784-8310 or online to schedule a consultation.

Published May 15, 2023
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