Legal Considerations for Seniors
Get Legal Affairs In Order
As you get older, it becomes more and more important to get your legal affairs in order. If your loved ones will be needing senior care services in the near future, you should help them get all of their papers and affairs in order. Be sure that you understand their legal plans and requests for the end of their life.
The Internet can prove to be a great resource for information on legal matters, especially those involving seniors. Read through the following helpful resources:
- Law Issues for Consumers (American Bar Association)
- Lawyer Locator Tool (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.)
- Find Legal Help (American Bar Association)
- Advance Health Care Directive
An advance directive will allow your family, friends, and doctors know how to handle your health and treatment at the end of your life. Should you become sick and unable to make decisions regarding your own health, your care will be decided upon by one of two ways:
- Living Will—This legal document will contain your specifications for certain treatments and health care options.
- Power of Attorney (Health Care)—You can appoint someone to make decisions related to your health, should you become unable to make decisions yourself.
When planning for the end of your life, you should consult with a lawyer about creating wills and trusts. These are very important when it comes to estate planning. Learn more:
- Wills—This legal document will prevent confusion among your family members when you pass, clearly stating who gets what after your death. Your lawyer will recommend updating it regularly.
- Trusts—This may be a part of your will or a separate document. Trusts are held by you for the benefit of someone else. Whomever you designate as a trustee will not have to pay large estate taxes after your death.
If you do not designate someone to act on your behalf as a power of attorney, the courts may appoint a guardian or a conservator. Learn more about these:
- Guardian—This person can make personal, financial, and health care decisions on your behalf if you are incapable. Your guardian can choose whether or not you should receive a treatment or remain on life support, for example.
- Conservator—This person will only be able to oversee your financial affairs and manage them to your benefit. They will be in charge of managing, investing, and trading your assets.
As your loved one gets older, they may also need to get important documents and information in order. These should be kept safe and easily accessible in the case of an emergency. You may need to help your loved one with the following:
- Social security card
- Birth certificate
- Health care information
- Insurance information
- Bank statements
- Investment records
- Mortgage records
- Funeral arrangements
- Loan papers
- Marriage/divorce papers (if applicable)
- Credit card information
When it comes to the legal affairs of your aging loved one, make sure they and your family are protected. Consult with a lawyer for more information and expert advice.