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End stages COPD in Indiana. My dad has around 35,000 in the bank and he's on Medicare and has end stage COPD (only 22% lung capacity left). His house needs a few big repairs but won't get them fixed for some reason, and I've tried EVERYTHING to get him to before something happens to him and he can't get to the money for any reason be it the state, the city coming to make him move out. He's 66 and has no memory of EVER living ANY place else except for the 3 years he was married to my mom. He what's left his house by his parents and he has a will at his lawyers office leaving EVERYTHING to me, as I'm an only child. I guess I just really need a checklist of things I have to get done between now and then. A time frame to do a man and all this for dummies cuz I've never done this before in my life but all my life he took care of me and now I just want to do the very best I can to take care of my Daddy. Thanks in advance y'all 😁, from Indiana

Are you saying that his home could be condemned?

Is he alone and just wasting away?

More information is needed if you want real help. To ambiguous to understand what is happening.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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jcrane: Imho, perhaps you need to retain an elder law attorney.
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If your dad is a veteran he probably qualifies for a pension through the VA. You can contact the local chapter and ask about a program called Aide and Assistance. It’s a lot of paperwork, but he would be paid a monthly pension (administered by you) to pay his expenses. Can be used for bills, home repairs, taxes, pre-pay a funeral, etc. It was a God-send for my dad.
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Reply to AuntSu
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The first thing is you go to an eldercare attorney specialist and draw up a Power of Attorney and learn all the aspects of taking care of an aging parent legally - you must do that now. Second, you can contact the local area Office on Aging in your county for general information. Also search the internet for "Guidelines to take care of elderly people" and search data like that. There is so much on the internet. Contact AARP (American Association for Retired People as they deal with old people and have so much information available. Start with this and you will have so much to start learning from. Good luck. As to your father, he has dementia and you will never get him to cooperate or be able to reason with you. That is why you start with the attorney. Also contact Medicaid - ask them to explain the system, etc. to you in case his funds are gone and he needs to be placed somewhere.
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Your profile says dad is 41. Is that correct?
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Mizeasy Oct 31, 2021
She says he is 66.
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JCrane - you mentioned State/ city coming to take him (his home).
So exactly what is this about???
Is dad delinquent on property taxes? Does dad have blight or fines on the place? Does he have judgements attached onto the property?
I think you need to find out if any “encumbrances” on property and see if they can be dealt with successfully before you start to do a spend down of $35,000.

If plan is to have him keep house, then using his $ to pay off delinquency on his home makes sense. If its unpaid property taxes, that imo you need to pay otherwise property can go up tax sale. He can loose home via a tax sale redemption.

if dad keeps the home, he will need to do right to return affidavit for Medicaid & likely to tax assessor/ collector as well (to keep homestead exemption). If he cannot be cognitive enough, you need to be his POA to do this. Another reason to have POA done.

When it comes to homes & Medicaid & MERP, value of home is important imo. You need value to be accurate. If dad inherited the place from his folks and he has not done renovations or major upgrades, it may not be truly comparable to other homes. Tax assessor uses comps to place taxes & that means recent sales. If he’s in an area w lots of builds or Reno’s done, taxes will reflect that. He or you as his POA can contest assessment annually. Look at his last tax bill, does value make sense for the condition of this home? Could he easily sell it at the assessor value?

House value also comes into play for Medicaid & MERP.
Should you want to buy it & not deal with his owning it till whenever route, it needs to be at FMV (Fair Market Value) which gets based on tax assessor figure. So if assessor has $345K, Medicaid is going to expect it sold within 10% of $345k. IF it is really a POS property, like not at code for electric / plumbing, other major issues, it’s worth less. It may be under 100K. You’re going to have to establish it’s value by having it inspected & appraised. Both are legal documents. Medicaid & probate court accept appraisals.

Doing anything now to increase value, not really in your best interest if plan is to have him keep the place & you deal w estate recovery later

Re MERP exemptions, look over the list to see if any apply to all heirs. caregiver exemption needs 2 years full time caregiver for him in the home and some sort of documentation from his MD or SW as to his “need” during those 2 years before he entered a NH on Medicaid. There r other exemptions & exclusions. If you’re in a state that does Lady Bird deeds those pass outside of probate so no recovery. If there’s a Testamentary trust on home in Will, no recovery.

Elder keeping their home can be done but family / heirs have to have wallet & sense of humor to pay for all and deal with whatever for possibly years. If there r several heirs, what seems to happen is everyone is all “govmint not taking maws Place” for 6 mos….. then Sis fails to pay taxes, Brother stops cutting grass, tree falls onto neighbors yard and nobody wants to deal with it. So the responsibile sibling does & pays for all on a property that in theory everyone could inherit OR the house ends up getting sold. As its technically still dads, all $ from Act of Sale is his; he must use $ to pay for his care in the NH. Dad cannot gift y’all any house sale $. Medicaid tends to take the position that what we do for our parents we do as a sense of familial responsibility without necessarily expecting repayment. You would need some sort of promissory note or memo of understanding to be repaid in advance of any outlay.

You know your ability, your wallet & yiur family best, if it’s just not feasible to keep the place, talk w dad about selling it now - if you can, sometimes you can’t - and have dad use the $ to private pay for care. Just remember no gifting. Good luck!
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Reply to igloo572
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JCrane, if your goal is to: 1. keep dads 35K &
2. have him keep his home &
3. have him become eligible for LTC in a NH paid by Medicaid….
AND
dad is needing a NH in the near future, like within next year or less, doing all 3 is imo NOT at all FEASIBLE.
To be creative with a elders asset's to have the changes done so that it is not an issue for LTC Medicaid eligibility needs at a minimum 5 full years prior. If dad is needing a NH and soon, that ship has sailed.

Medicaid LTC by & large requires a 5 yr look back on applicants assets. That means dad will have to provide for 5 years of bank statements, tax filings. All current paperwork on home and car(s). Any preneed funeral burial stuff. His life insurance and their type (term, whole life). His “awards letters” from SSA and other retirements that show to the penny what he will be getting as monthly income for 2022. The awards letters go out Nov - Dec for the incoming year. Please pls pls be on the lookout for these, they are mucho importante for his Medicaid filing. So if dad should go into a NH in Feb, he would have needed to do changes back in Jan 2017 to get beyond any possible transfer penalty issued by Medicaid.

Personally I think you should resigned yourself to having his 35k used to private pay for care (inhome for a while or couple of mo of a NH), to pay for him to get legal done / updated so there is a proper valid will done, get new suitable for a NH clothing & shoes. If dad needs new eyeglasses and hearing aids and more specialized Walker or really really really needs dental work done, use his $ for these are they are not readily paid for by Medicaid or Medicare or paid at the lowest cheapest ones. 35k not very much $. Doing all this could take him down to 2K pretty fast. $2,000 is the maximum in non exempt assets allowed by LTC Medicaid for most states.

On the house, if dad wants to do continue to own his home, again by & large Medicaid allows for that. His home can remain an exempt asset for his lifetime. Home stays in his name. But this gets totally sticky in
1. he will be required to do a copay of almost all of his monthly income (amount is determined by those awards letters) to the NH under LTC Medicaid rules. So dad still own the home but has zero-no-nada of his $ to pay a penny on the place.
2. Medicaid via MERP (estate recovery) is required to attempt a recoup of all $ spent for dads care from any after death assets. The house goes from exempt while alive to nonexempt asset of his estate once dead. Whomever named as executor to his estate will have to deal w MERP in some way. It is really really really important to have a Will done otherwise if no will he is considered an “intestate” death and for those assets escheat to the State till heirs are determined.

Now if your goal is for you to inherit the home, you will need to pay all property costs from day 1 of Medicaid to maybe 2 years after his death and go thru however MERP (estate recovery) runs for your state. Average length of stay in a NH is 2.5-3 years. So can you personally afford all property costs (taxes, insurance, utilities, upkeep) on dads empty house for 4-5 years? Look at dads bills, get a solid idea of just how much the house costs. Can you easily and readily afford it and with an emergency fund?

i mention empty house as seem to be that is family lives in the house, they may be required to pay rent. Like fair market rent. If you were there as a caregiver for 2 year prior, or are yourself disabled, or elderly sibling then the State may NOT require rent paid. Keeping the house empty may be easier, although you may need to change property insurance.

If you or the other heirs are likely to have exemptions or exclusions to MERP, or your in a state that does Lady Bird deeds, or if you have a Testamentary Trust set up in a Will 5 years prior, then keeping the home might be feasible. I’m going to do a separate post on what imo you have to be prepared to deal with to make this work
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Reply to igloo572
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In my recent journey of husband with early dementia, and the worsening of my parents cognitive status, this is what I've learned.....
Speak with a good elder care lawyer asap. Get placed on all checking savings accounts with his permission asap. I suddenly had to manage my parents finances this month when my mom broke her hip and could no longer deal with the bills. Protect the house asset with a quit claim deed. If your parent can sign it to you. Ask how to avoid probate costs and fees. You will be SO GLAD YOU DID!!
If your dad was a veteran, check into financial help through the county VA admin office. There is assistance for those vets with less than $135,000 in assets not including the house ( in Michigan).
I immediately got DPOA with my newly dx. Husband with a terrific elder care attorney. I wish I had pressed my parent s to get one before now. They are 89 and 91 and now both have profound cognitive declines...
Get copies of their advanced directives and be ready to give it to everyone who asks such as long term care people. Rehab people. Any health care agency people ..etc A physician must certify that they want to be DNR. ( Do not rescusitate) I didn't know this. Get a signed copy of it from their physician.

Oh, and look at assisted living costs and plan accordingly. My parents just went into a senior housing apartment and the minimum cost is 2300 for them plus added services. So $50,000/ year is the plan..... Medicaid is an option for low income folks and the house is exempt usually from seizure.. but check that for your state too...
Best wishes, may God grant you peace.
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Reply to Patti2021
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As you can see from Nancy's reply there are a lot of ducks to get in a row here! I would advise you go to an attorney familiar with elder law to get all the documents you need. Sounds like your Dad's estate is pretty simple and so the fee would be more reasonable than if you needed to set up a trust or something.
If you don't already have your name on his checking account I suggest you add it now. That way you can write out checks for expenses even after he passes away. Could be handy for final expenses or if he gets sick or hurt and he can't do it himself. Power of Attorney is only valid when your father is alive. It expires upon his death.
This is too complex to do yourself by reading a book! And every state has different laws. Invest in an hour or two with an attorney and get it done right. And do it sooner rather than later, as your Dad's declining more each day.
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Reply to swanalaka
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Go and see the lawyer who did your father's will. Since you're his caregiver you may have a right to be paid out of your father's money. The lawyer will show you how his estate is set up. If you are on the deed to his property then you will be allowed to keep half it's value if he goes on Medicaid.
If your father hasn't already made you his POA for his financial and healthcare decisions get that done with the lawyer and your father. It's better to have this done then to be appointed conservator/guardian by the court. There's no wiggle room when the court appoints because a person has to answer to them for every little thing. If you've got a POA done in advance, you can move money around and withdraw money for things like home repair without having to answer to the probate court for every little thing.
The lawyer who did his will can best advise you. Go and see him with your father.
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Reply to BurntCaregiver
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Unless you already have POA and are joint on your father's bank account, there is very little you can do except have him declared incompetent and apply for guardianship of him. You cannot hire anyone to make major repairs on the house unless you are on the deed. This is not a situation for dummies 101. Without legal action your checklist of things to be done cannot be accomplished.
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KaleyBug Oct 31, 2021
If she has financial POA she can do upgrades to the house without being on the deed.
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If someone says it’s dads money and not your inheritance, that person fails to understand the goal is to preserve wealth while still getting dad the care he needs.

Call your county Health Dept and ask if they have a center on aging that can point you in the right direction. Alternatively call your local senior centers - a decent one is worth it’s weight in good.

If a nursing home is going to wipe out dads assets, the idea is to protect them so dad qualifies for Medicaid and the NH goes to them for payment. So you buying dads home (for next to nothing) protects the home — but you have to pay capital gains and some states have law that says the NH can sue the children for expenses.

Bottom line, you don’t need elder care/inheritance for dummies. You need to find some experts.

Keep asking “What else should I ask? Who else should I talk to?” (That’s advice from a renowned entrepreneurial expert)
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gladimhere Oct 31, 2021
If the house is sold to OP for less than market value that would be considered a gift to OP. That would make dad ineligible for Medicaid.
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Ther's absolutely nothing you can do unless your Dad has you on as a co signer on his Bank Account or appoints you POA.
Other than that, since he has a Will leaving everything to you, then that will happen once he dies.
If he doesn'r have Long Care Health Insurance and he want's to stay in his own home instead of a Nursing Home which is always best to stay in your own home than go into a Nursing Home, because they are all understaffed and not a place you'd want to live.
That $35,000 will be gone in less than 6 months if you have to hire a Caregiver to stay with him 24 7, and that's if you look yourself and find a few that will work or $10 hr.
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Reply to bevthegreat
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I had to learn how to do this for my elderly aunt (she asked me to be her POA and wanted to stay in her apartment with home care, she is now deceased) and now for my elderly mother who is still alive and wanted to move to a senior/assisted living facility. You don't say whether you live near him and whether he is still capable of handling his own affairs. All of the things you need to do are easier if you are nearby. If not, you may have to take time off to get them done. While he is still able to sign legal papers, make sure that he sets up Powers of Attorney (POA) for both financial and medical matters. This means that you can take over for him if he becomes incapacitated. He needs a "living will", which has his medical directives, such as "do not resucitate, no feeding tubes or heroic measures" (if he wants that), etc. You'll have to discuss this with him. It sounds like his main asset may be the house. He should also have a will (it sounds like he does - you can ask the attorney for a copy of it). Hopefully he'll make you POA and beneficiary/executor of the will. You may need an attorney for these legal papers. You can ask your father's attorney for advice (there will be a charge for it). Get connected with a local social worker and senior groups who can advise on how to get these things done at lower cost, including a pro bono attorney, if needed. Banks and financial institutions (credit card companies, brokerage firms etc.) often have their own POA forms, which he'll have to sign. It's best if you are there with him. My mother made me joint owner of her bank accounts. This makes things much easier. Ask your father's credit card company to issue you a card on his account with your name on it so that you can make purchases for him. This can be done with a phone call, he needs to be sitting with you to agree to this. You need to be on file with Medicare and Social Security to be able to speak on his behalf. This can be done with a phone call with him sitting there with you to agree to it. You'll need a list of all of his assets and companies that are billing him, with contact information (name, address, account number, telephone number, email, website (passwords), etc.) and also for his attorney, etc. I did this on a spreadsheet for my aunt and mother, taking information from their financial statements and bills. I also had a list of people who took care of my parents' house (handyman, person who shovels snow, etc.) If you and he are up to it, you may want to make his funeral arrangements while he is alive: purchase a plot, get a funeral home, discuss with him how he wants it to be. My aunt had everything set up ahead of time, and it made arrangements much easier. When I had POA, I set up as much as I could with online accounts so that I could manage things from my home. My aunt and mother let me take over their financial affairs. I had to do "unclaimed property" searches to reclaim a lot of money that my aunt had let lapse. I consolidated their accounts to make things easier to manage. After he passes, the funeral home will notify social security and will issue you his death certificates. Depending on the amount of the assets, the estate may have to go into probate. Your father's attorney can advise you if this happens. I had to ask for a lot of death certificates for my aunt as she had many small accounts. Each account (including accounts for utility bills, property tax payments, etc.) have to be notified of the death and who the new owner is. If your father has a safe deposit box, make sure you know where the key is and how to get into it. Safe deposit boxes get restricted when someone dies until the new legal owner is legally determined. Try to get joint ownership of the safe deposit box, if that's possible. Regarding repairs to the house, you may want to get quotes, so that you understand the costs involved.
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Reply to NancyIS
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MJ1929 is absolutely correct. Don’t hesitate to add your name to your fathers bank accounts. When your father passes, you may have many outstanding bills to pay and will be able to write checks from a joint account. Power of Attorney is very important but keep in mind, that many places don’t always honor it. Not sure why, but I did have that happen that happen.
Good luck.
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gladimhere Oct 31, 2021
Power of Attorney ends at death.
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There is a difference between Medicare and Medicaid and it's Medicaid that can take your Dad's assets - but only under certain circumstances. Ask around and find a well regarded ELDER LAW attorney (should specialize in Elder Law). Many lawyers give free consultations. It sounds intimidating but a good lawyer will break it all down for you, guide you, and do most of the work. Since your Dad already has a will, he may also have a Health Care Proxy and durable POA naming you - but you need to find out. So that's your starting point. After that, if you have POA and control of finances you can make any necessary repairs to the house. You may want to retain most of his assets to help pay for an in-home aide for your Dad if and when it all becomes too much for you alone. If he isn't on Medicaid, private care can easily deplete finances.
Hope this helps.
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gladimhere Oct 31, 2021
Medicaid will not "take" the assets. Let's remember his assets are for his care and only become inheritance after he passes.

Medicaid will place liens on the house to recover as much of the cost of care as possible.
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Get power of attorney for finances, power of attorney for medical, will, and advanced directive drawn up by a lawyer near him. You might also do well to pay for an hour's worth of consultation with a lawyer that specializes in elder law near him.
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His assets are for his care, not for inheritances.
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Reply to Bridger46164
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Number one ! HIRE A LAWYER..... Even though it will be too late to save all of his assets from Medicare taking them from him to pay for his nursing home payments , the lawyer can save a small percent for his children . Like me, he should of at least put his home and any other valuable into an IRREVOCABLE TRUST. IT MUST BE IN THERE FOR AT LEAST FIVE YEARS OTHERWISE THE GOVERNMENT CAN TAKE IT.
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rovana Nov 1, 2021
Medicare does not take anybody's assets - Medicaid will try to recoup care costs by putting lien on house. Very fair really.
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And get with an elder care lawyer if you think Medicaid will have to help pay for health care (especially nursing home care) at some point. Medicaid has a 5-year look back provision, meaning even if assets are gifted, transferred, put in certain types of trusts (all possible asset protection-type activities) your state may nevertheless go after it. Medicaid requires funds be spent down to a total asset profile (that is the value of everything) of maybe $2K (each state is different) before it kicks in. Your dad's Wills, Trust and Estate attorney may work with or recommend an elder care attorney to help handle any Medicaid-related planning steps. Your area agency on aging may also be of help.
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Reply to Sohenc
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I don't understand why the State would step in. Are you thinking Medicaid? If you think they will be needed to pay for his care that 35k could be used on repairs on the house to spend it down. Otherwise that 35k would need to be used for his care before Medicaid will pay.

Why would the city make him move out if he own the house? Is he not paying taxes?
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Set up an appointment with a trust and estate attorney. (His lawyer is probably that guy.) If Dad is able to go to the lawyer's office, great. If not, most will come to you.

You need:

1. Durable power of attorney for financial matters
2. Medical power of attorney for Dad's medical decisions
3. Will (done)
4. Possibly a trust if he has any other assets beyond his $35,000 and the house.
5. Bank powers of attorney. Again, if Dad is able, go to his bank with him, have him tell them without prompting that he wants you to have power of attorney for his accounts. Banks always seem to have their own power off attorney forms and don't like the one you had legally done by an attorney, so if you can do this with Dad in tow, that's a good thing. (Even better is to have him put you on his accounts as a joint owner. When he dies, the account automatically belongs to you with no tax implications.)
6. If he has a car, if he'd agree to add you to the title, that'll make selling it much easier. Be sure the ownership is listed as "Mr. Dad" OR "JCrane," not AND, because then you have to deal with either getting his signature to sell it if he's still with us, or producing a death certificate to prove he cannot sign. If it's and OR title, either one of you can sell it without the other's signature.

DO NOT put the house in your name until after he dies. You'll get socked with huge capital gains taxes, which are taxes on the amount between what Grandma paid for that house and what you sell it for. If you inherit the house instead, you'll get what's called a stepped-up cost basis, and you'll pay no taxes if you sell within six months or so after his death.

Don't sweat the repairs on the house unless it's unsafe for him to live there. Is he likely to live long with such poor lung capacity? What are your plans if he needs to go to a nursing home? These are things to discuss with the attorney.

Keep copious notes on EVERYTHING you do. I got a big spiral-bound school notebook and wrote down everything that went on every day with my dad when he got sick. I wrote down phone numbers, names, appointments, what the doctors said, documented trips to the bank, how much I spent at the grocery store -- everything. Make that your evening ritual -- write it ALL down. Trust me, it'll save your sanity to be able to off-load all that stuff every night, and once you've written it down, you know you can go back and refer to it again. I carried that notebook with me everywhere for months, and it became the book for Mom's care, too.
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graygrammie Oct 31, 2021
About #5 -- If I am put on my dad's accounts as joint owner, then am I to consider that part of MY assets? And what do then I have to report at tax time? Right now we are in a very low tax bracket. However, if I have to include dad's accounts, that will change, which would actually be a hardship since I wouldn't actually access that money until his passing.

The notebook -- What a great idea. Thanks for explaining that.
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Jcrane, welcome!

Have you gotten Power of attorney for financial and medical matters?
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