suthnbaby Asked December 2012

Legal documents for elderly. What are some must have legal paperwork or documents that we should all have now?

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I am concerned being an only child and marrying an older man, caring for my parents.

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I am the only child of my Mom who lives with me. She is 88 next Thursday and so far she is very healthy. Is beginning to show a few signs of dementia and the CT scan some muscle atrophy and evidence of little strokes. I am afraid of what will happen in the future, but Mom has an attitude of not taken this sitting down. I am trying to get as much information as possible of what i need to do now and in the future. Mom sold her home in California a few years ago and that money is invested with both of our names on the account. Currently I am looking for an attorney that can advise me what to do about the money. I am a single home owner and make a decent pay check. Thank God my boss is very understanding as she has elderly parents also. I have a feeling that this website will be very helpful to me in the future. Thanks
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MomHat Dec 2012
Hi Carolrose: You asked a question about all 3 siblings being put on POA...I have 2 other siblings and when I took my mom to an elder lawyer to have everything laid out in forms of documents, she did put all 3 of us siblings on the Medical and Durable POA. The way it is worded allows any one of us to be POA for my mom in the event the other one cannot take on that responsibility and/or is deceased before our mother. We just moved my mom to be near by brother who lives several states away and it was nice as he could just take over with regards to the POA. I am not sure if things differ state to state, so I would definitely check with a laywer who specializes in elder law in your state.
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When possible, its best to get the documents to allow you FULL power over your parent whether they are incompitent or not when they start to get close to that stage.
In some cases, as the disease sets in, your parent starts to say and do things that are not "them" and not what they wanted from the start.
When there are lots of kids involved, all things need to be spelled out early on while they are still in early stages and can think for them selves.
In large family's, there always seems to be a brother or sister who thinks "mom or dads" bank account is also there bank account, and they end ups relying on there parents SSN check for there needs. Trust, I have seen it first hand.
God bless you and your family's on this website, and I hope we all only have to go thru this once in our lives, and not several times. The sooner you can get your parent to an elder law attorney the better, as they can advise you and help you put together the best strategy to care for your ailing or future ailing parent or loved one.
Good luck.
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Lizann Dec 2012
I think you can have more than one child on these legal documents. However, ask an elder attorney how that tends to work in the real world. I think it is difficult to get all 3 children agree at various stages of the aging process. The child who has "been there" the most for you should be the one to rely on. If others are either inattentive, live far away etc it will complicate any attempt to meet your needs.
I helped an elderly aunt but when it came to power of attorney I suggested she rely on her brother who lived near her. I lived 400 miles away and as much as I loved her, it wasn't practical for me to try to handle her daily affairs given the distance.

It doesn't mean you love one child more than another, it simply means one child is in a better position to help you as you age.
Elizabeth
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carolrose45 Dec 2012
can all 3 children be put on every document such as health care proxy and POA, so there will be no fighting, as is in most families because on sibling is left out? My children would feel jealous or left out, if I didnt put all 3 names down on everything. Is that soemthing an atty would laugh at, or would do in respect of wishes. There is just so much fighing of siblings after parents die, I dont want that to happen to my children. thank you..
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N1K2R3 Dec 2012
Good question. I believe that a Will, not a Living Will, is the first document that a person should have. Do it while you are still coherent and able.
After that, the appointment and the name of a POA both Financial and Medical should be kept in a safe place in the home. No need for a Safety Deposit Box at the bank in case something happens on a Friday or Saturday night with a holiday on Monday. You won't be able to get at it until Tuesday morning.
Then the appointment of an Executor for your estate. It wouldn't hurt to have a safe in your home with some CASH, enough to carrty the utilities and urgent bills before the estate can be set up. Cash is good. Last, but not least, the Advance Directive. Be cautious about the language in these docs. They can be difficult to read......especially if you wish to live.
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I have been taking care of my father for the past 7½ years were I have seen him through Stage 3 to Stage 6 of dementia. Upon the onset of the early stages I began dialog with my father about his dementia and what to do in the event he become mentally and/or physically incapacitated. I then felt it prudent to make an appointment with his lawyer where all three of us could make future plans for the handling of his finances and the maintenance of his physical care.

POA (Power of Attorney) is essential for the handling of a persons assets for the benefit of that person(s) alone. There may be hospital bills, nursing home bills, etc. along with maintenance of that persons estate, again for their benefit.

Moreover, an HCP (Health Care Proxy) is a document that should be drawn out which allows a patient to appoint an agent to make health care decisions in the event that the primary individual is incapable of executing such decisions. (more ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_proxy)

Also make sure that HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is written into the HCP document. This allows the HCP agent to not only to disclose a persons private medical information but more importantly allows the agent access to all information retained from medical health professionals enabling the HCP agent to make clearer judgments on decisions made for the patient.

The HCP with HIPAA is very important. Without it doctors and hospitals can make decisions without consulting the family. Unnecessary procedures, operations, medications, etc. can be invoked without an HCP agent. Of course doctors and hospitals are in place to save lives. However, "quality" of life is not always paramount in their decision making. "Cures" can cause more pain, discomfort, distress etc. for persons of an advanced age.

Due to recent (12/11/12) events it has become self evident that I can no longer care for my father alone. Showing signs of Stage 7 of dementia accompanied with a pair of kidneys working only at half capacity having the HCP with HIPAA with myself as the agent has made things run very smoothly though his recent stay at a hospital to a seamless move into a nursing home. The health care professionals have ALL treated me as though I were my father himself and have given me ALL up-front information on my fathers health and have answered ALL my questions and have allowed me to have the "final say" when it comes to making a decision.

BTW, in my fathers HCP document he wants DNR, no feeding tubes, no artificial life support ... BUT ... if he is in pain ... "all the pain revealing medicine he can get even if it kills him!" Those are his exact words written into his HCP document and as his agent it is my duty to see that his wishes are carried out to the letter.
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Lizann Dec 2012
Welcome to the only child primary caregiver club. When the parent's health declines in this situation, you are it. It does help to have power of attorney and a document where your parent decides how much care they want. The medical document is an "advanced directive". However, even when you have such documents the medical staff will continue to hide behind the HIPPA law and not want to share information. They don't seem to want to share vital information with the caregiver (not the intend of the law--but they will do it anyway). I kept a copy of the documents with me to wipe out as needed. Giving the medical staff a copy doesn't work well either as they will destroy it after a visit to the hospital or rehab center. They keep nothing on file anywhere. It is very frustrating.

As they age, assisting them with medical appts, meds, and bill paying will likely occur. I found taking care of my dad's medical issues before they developed into a crisis made sense. It does involve lots of visits to doctors,and lots of routine medical tests and as an only child joggling the time to go to this appts with the parent is difficult. Hopefully your job will be understanding. If you can get a good primary care doctor who will come to the home that would be a big help. Some doctors still visit the elderly at home (God bless them). I also had doctors who would return phone calls promptly when different problems occured and that was very beneficial.

You may wish to consult an elder law attorney with your parent. I would visit the office of aging in your area and see what programs your parents qualify for either now or in the future. Take whatever help they are qualified for as it is a huge job caregiving as an only child.

Elizabeth
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joege18 Dec 2012
You should probably have durable and medical power of attorney forms so you may be able to speak for them on financial and medical decisions. A revocable living trust may be advised as well as you can be selected as the trustee. You may want to speak with your attorney.
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