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Legal Life Documents and Forms For Aging Parents

Legal Life Documents Forms for Aging Parents package is important for use in helping your aging parent organize their legal affairs as they begin to enter a later stage of life. It covers events that may affect their health, finances and affairs after their death and are vital for your aging parent to maintain on file and safeguard in the event of an emergency or unforeseen life event.



The Legal Forms Your Aging Parents Need

Introduction

Elderly persons require constant assistance in their daily lives because of their old age, illness and general immobility. Young persons have the moral and legal responsibility to protect and take care of elders. Both federal and state laws provide for the protection of the rights of the elderly. In a majority of states, adult children have a legal duty to provide care and protection to their aging parents. Many states have statutes that provide protection to elders from age discrimination and abuse. There are also statutes that facilitate estate planning.

Caregivers

Adult children are statutorily responsible to be caregivers for their aging parents. Aging parents at times enter into caregiver contracts with their children. A caregiver contract defines caregiving provisions about elder care and specifies the responsibilities and benefits of the caregiver. Such contracts ensure that the cost of care is paid for and helps to avoid any potential future conflicts between family members.

Living Wills

Elderly parents may also give instructions to the children regarding their health care in the future when they may be unable to make decisions because of illness. The document that provides instructions about future health care is known as an advance health care directive. A living will is a type of an advance directive that provides instructions for treatment.

General Durable Power of Attorney

As long as mentally competent, aging parents may execute a power of attorney in the name of another person to look after their legal, financial and medical matters. A power of attorney is a written document by which one person is authorized to handle another person's property and other legal affairs.

Occasionally, the courts appoint legal guardians to the aging parents when they are unable to care for themselves. Legal guardians take legal custody of the elder person and handle the elder person's property and other affairs.

Last Will and Testament

With the help of a last will and testament, the elders may assign assets to their heir upon their death A last will and testament is a legal document by which a person assigns one or more persons to manage his/her property at death. Elderly parents should be consulted while executing estate planning documents, such as a will or a power of attorney to ensure that their property is distributed according to their wishes.

Protection of the Elderly

Old persons are vulnerable to many forms of harassment, abuse and mistreatment. There are various organizations and agencies that provide numerous services to the aged. Such organizations provide various senior help/family help packages to prepare aged persons emotionally well in advance and help them through. Organizations like home health care agencies provide many in-home services. There are agencies such as the Administration on Aging for advancing the interests of seniors. The aim of such agencies are to develop a cost effective and complete system of home and community-based services that helps old persons to maintain their health and freedom in their home and society.

These days, many elders prefer to live in assisted living facilities like nursing homes. However, before choosing a nursing home proper enquiries should be made if it is properly licensed and you should also check the track record of the institution. There are many organizations like the National Center for Elder Abuse that collect and publish information on nursing homes.

Aging Parents FAQs

What are the things I have to consider while choosing a nursing home for my aging parents?

Nursing homes are residential health care facilities for the elderly who require assistance and support because of their old age and illness. Before choosing a nursing home, the track record of the institution must be verified. You should also ensure that the institution you choose is properly licensed for senior help/family help. You can also rely on information, forms and packages provided by various organizations on nursing homes. The Medicare website contains a tool called Nursing Home Compare that will provide information on nursing homes. The website also facilitates comparison of services provided by various nursing homes.

What is a care giver contract, and what are its advantages, if any?

A caregiver contract is a home health care agreement that ensures elder care for the aged and outlines responsibilities of caregivers. Such a contract helps avoid any possible arguments in the future between an elderly parent and their care giver. It also guarantees payment of the cost of care. A caregiver contract must be in writing. A well-drafted caregiver agreement stipulates caregiving provisions. It outlines the rights and duties of both the parties and clearly specifies about the services to be provided to elderly parents and charges for the service.

I am an elder parent. How can I authorize someone/my children to represent or act on my behalf when I am old and disabled?

You can authorize a person to represent or act on your behalf by executing a power of attorney. A power of attorney may be a general power of attorney or it may be limited to any specific act and can be one of the following:

  • Financial power of attorney that give authority to a person to handle financial matters.
  • Living will that also authorizes an agent to act in life-support matters. A living will may also be known as an advance health care directive. Living wills are advance directives that provide instructions for treatment. A living will is a declaration of the principal's health care and medical wants.
  • Medical power of attorney that authorizes a person to handle matters related to your health care. Health care decisions include the authority to approve or decline medical care or treatment.
  • Durable power of attorney that survives the grantor's disability. Under a durable power of attorney, the authority of the authorized person continues even if the grantor is incapacitated and becomes unable to manage his own affairs.

I am a senior person. What does a last will and testament mean and is it necessary for me to write it?

The last will and testament is a legal document that details a testator's plan regarding the distribution of his assets. It is written during the lifetime of the testator and executed when he passes away. The purpose of writing a last will and testament is to expend assets of a testator to his/her heirs upon his death. A testator's last will and testament will help control the way assets are expended after his/her death. If a person dies without writing a will, his/her assets escheat to the state. Thus, writing a last will and testament helps keep one's estate in the hands of family members.

Can you explain what estate planning is?

Estate planning is a process in which disposal of an estate is anticipated in advance and arranged accordingly. Estate planning includes details about the last will, names the beneficiaries to the estate as well as those to whom and how a power of attorney is executed. It removes ambiguity over a probate. The elderly and aging parents should do estate planning in order to ensure smooth transfer of their assets.



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