“In our culture, there seems to be this idea that we are always going to be able take care of things. Unfortunately, we never know when we will have had our best season,” Terry Hammond, executive director of the National Guardianship Association.
According to Terry Hammnond, just a few sessions of planning and one sit down meeting to sign a will or trust and power of attorney can ensure that this idea does not create complications for family members and heirs “Legal Planning for Seniors.” Each of these legal documents can be used in a different way to protect a person and their heirs from having to make difficult decisions regarding finances and healthcare, especially in situations where the “best season” may have passed.
Last Wills & Living Trusts
When a person passes away, a last will is the legal document which ensures that their assets are given to the individuals and groups to whom that person wanted the assets to be given. For a Will to work as it should it must comply with state law and must go through “probate” proceedings in court.
A trust is set up by putting some portion or the totality of a person’s assets into the trust while that person is still alive. The person can then designate others to manage the trust upon their death. If a person dies without a trust or last will, their assets will be handled in accordance with state law. A will or trust can help a person to avoid a bad ending to a good season.
In the event of incapacitation, terminal illness or a loss of the ability to communicate an advanced directive is a legal document clarifies a person’s desires for their health and preservation. The document serves as a double protection; firstly, from the paternalism of others and secondly, from themselves in the event that they become incapacitated.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney is a further safeguard and can be used financial and for the purpose of healthcare. A person designates an agent, and in the event that the person is unable to communicate or no longer has the capacity to make important decisions about their health or financial estate that agent has the ability to make those choices for them. The document can be composed in such a way that it ensures the agent has authority only over the particular things which the person wishes them to have authority over. Your daughter might no exactly how you would like your body to be cared for, but perhaps your brother is an accountant and would be better equipped to decide when you ought to sell the vehicles you no longer need.
Performing legal planning such as a Durable Power of Attorney, a Will, or a Trust in the present will ensure that a person and their financial affairs are fully prepared for any circumstances that might come their way.
Reference: A Place for Mom ( January 2018) “Legal Planning for Seniors.”