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The Legalities Of Elder Care

When you assume care of an elderly relative, there are many legal documents and formalities that may need to be completed.

These should be taken care of as soon as possible and, if the person you are taking into your care is able to help you, it will make the process go more smoothly. Keep in mind that when someone completes these documents, they are, in fact, giving up some control of their own lives. Only a very close friend or family member with no conflicting motives should be given these powers.

  • Letter Of Instruction A letter of instruction provides important information and instructions a caretaker may need. It includes the contact information for close family and friends, a list of assets and liabilities, a list of insurance policies and information on all financial accounts.

  • Will A will designates who will receive major assets after a person dies. It also includes direction regarding guardianship of any children under the age of 18. Smaller items such as heirlooms, furniture and other household goods, should be addressed in a separate letter. This letter of "directions to your executor" should be referred to in the will.

  • Powers Of Attorney If the people under your care are unable to make decisions for themselves because they are somehow incapacitated, you will need to have power of attorney to make these decisions for them. Of course, they will need to create powers of attorney before they are actually needed. There are two main types of powers of attorney.

    A Power of Attorney for Property enables your attorney to deal with your property in the way you set out. This is useful, for example, for a lengthy hospital stay. It gives a person, or people, authority to manage your finances and other legal affairs for you if you are not capable of managing them yourself. It can be long-term or short-term and allows the party that has power of attorney to access your bank account and use your money to take care of you, pay your bills, sign your tax returns, handle your investments and other important matters.

    A Power of Attorney for Personal Care, or a "living will" gives the person you designate the authority to make any personal-care decisions for you that you are mentally incapable of making for yourself. These include the giving or refusing of consent to treatment. And it gives your attorney your "unequivocal authority" to take "extraordinary measures" to either keep you alive, or not.