aging parents, their money and the law
a parent becomes cognitively impaired, you are likely
to face a host of new legal issues. Typical concerns
will manage the confused person's money;
will make important health care decisions; and
to plan for long-term care.
skilled financial planner or attorney can help you plan
for the financial aspects of your parent's long-term
care needs. At a minimum, the professional you choose
should have experience in estate and financial planning,
probate and wills. In addition, your advisor should
be familiar with Medicaid, Social Security,
special needs trusts, tax planning, and housing
and health care contracts.
ways to locate an attorney or skilled financial advisor
decision-making for a person with memory loss can be
difficult and emotionally-charged. The process can be
simplified significantly, however, if your parent has
completed a durable power of attorney (POA)
and a health care power of attorney (HCPOA).
These two very different documents enable your parent
to designate another person to manage his/her finances
and health care decisions.
complete a POA or HCPOA, the person must be mentally
competent at the time the documents are signed. The
legal authority to make surrogate decisions will begin
only when and if the person becomes incompetent or relegates
authority to the attorney-in-fact. It is a good idea
to have POA and HCPOA forms reviewed by an experienced
attorney to ensure that the person's wishes are clearly
expressed and the information is complete.
creating these documents, you should have very detailed
discussions with your loved ones about their wishes
regarding their thoughts on various health care decisions.
When the time comes to have to make hard decisions,
you will have the peace of mind that you are following
the case where your parent is already suffering from
dementia and does not have the capacity to make decisions,
you may need to obtain a guardianship which provides
the legal authority to manage a person's:
order to obtain a guardianship, a friend, family member
or public official must petition the court with facts
about why the individual can no longer manage financial
or personal affairs. At a hearing, the judge determines
what special powers may be granted to the guardian.
tend to be complex; the legal agreements are court supervised
and the impaired person's assets and income become part
of the public record. In addition, prospective guardians
may face substantial costs for court, legal, investigator
and attorney fees.