This may be the most important blog you read in this series. For your parents, for yourselves, for anyone within your circle of care – you must get legal paperwork in order.
It is important to do so when a loved one can make and understand these decisions – they must be “of a sound mind“. I can say now, we just squeaked by on that sound mind business with my Dad.
If you don’t have Power of Attorney, you just may find yourself in court appealing for guardianship over your loved one, or conservatorshiop over their property.
You may need a family meeting to determine who will be the executor, who will have financial responsibility, and who will make medical decisions.
My sisters were happy to have me as primary in all those areas. I was the “administrative” sister, after all. This was not like winning a popularity contest. It is alot of work and decision-making.
I was careful to run all major decisions by my sisters, and always offered to let them review the financial paperwork. Patty was secondary on all documents.
Tools and Resources
There are on-line tools you can access full of information and advice. You can even complete your wills and other documents from tools provided on the internet. Or you can play it safe and consult an attorney, as they know the laws in your state and can help analyze your particular situation. This is especially important if your circumestance is complex; for example for a large estate, property in different states, divorce or remarriage, of if a disabled adult is involved. It may be the best money you’ve every spent.
AARP has great resources for members and nonmembers – Checklist
The American Bar Association has a kit for legal planning: Toolkit
Your county, local VA office, or senior citizen advocacy groups may be available to recommend legal resources.
A Living Trust
One more word of advice – you may want to explore a living trust with your attorney. This is a legal document that can protect assets so you can provide for their care, or a surviving spouse. It can keep property out of probate court. You may wish to set one up for your own family, well before you reach the elderly stage.
ACTION ITEM: GET YOUR LEGAL HOUSE IN ORDER – DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!
This blog is not legal advice and is no replacement for professional guidance.