OK, listen up everybody. At some point your parents will most likely need to be cared for by you or another caregiver in your family. If they don’t sign over power of attorney and become incapacitated by an accident or some form of dementia, you’re in for a world of challenges. The process to establish guardianship is lengthy and expensive. Let me explain.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT A POWER OF ATTORNEY
The goal is establishing your loved one’s wishes for an ongoing quality of life. The documents include the following.
POWER OF ATTORNEY – THIS DOCUMENT ALLOWS YOUR LOVED ONE TO NAME THE PERSON WHO WILL MAKE DECISIONS FOR THEM ABOUT LEGAL AND FINANCIAL MATTERS IF THEY ARE UNABLE TO DO SO.
HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY – THIS TYPE OF POA SPECIFICALLY ALLOWS THE PERSON YOUR AGING PARENT CHOOSES TO MAKE THEIR HEALTH AND MEDICAL DECISIONS ON THEIR BEHALF WHEN YOUR PARENT IS UNABLE TO DO SO. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP ANYONE CAN TAKE IF THEY WANT TO DIRECT THEIR CARE ALL THE WAY TO THE END.
WILL – THIS DOCUMENT EXPLAINS WHAT YOUR AGING LOVED ONE WANTS TO HAPPEN WITH THEIR ASSETS AND POSSESSIONS AFTER THEIR DEATH, AND NAMES A PERSON TO SERVE AS THE EXECUTOR WHO WILL CARRY OUT THOSE WISHES.
LIVING WILL – THIS IS A DOCUMENT THAT OUTLINES YOUR AGING PARENT’S WISHES FOR MEDICAL CARE IF THEY CANNOT MAKE DECISIONS FOR THEMSELVES.
Also, it’s a good idea to involve as many family members as possible in the process. Although there will be one person named as the Power of Attorney, it’s a massive responsibility and that caregiver will need help. Make sure everyone understands Mom or Dad’s wishes and how to carry them out. In addition to the legally enforceable papers such as a power of attorney, your family could help your aging parent outline all of the elements that they hope to see in place for their future quality of life.
You will find as you proceed that there are many issues that require clarity. For example, you might all discuss when your loved one would like to move to residential care, and how you can choose the best facility. There are, of course, more sensitive issues as well. If you need help with these conversations there are professionals who are very good at laying out the necessary truths in a sensitive way. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone.
4 REASONS TO START THE CONVERSATION AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
YOUR AGING PARENT IS STILL ABLE TO COMMUNICATE THEIR WISHES – AS I SAID IN THE BEGINNING, THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS. NOT ONLY IS IT DIFFICULT TO GAIN GUARDIANSHIP OF SOMEONE WITH DIMINISHED CAPACITY, BUT ONCE YOU DO, YOU’LL BE MAKING DECISIONS BASED ON WHAT YOU THINK IS BEST, NOT WHAT HE OR SHE WOULD’VE WANTED. LET YOUR PARENT KNOW THAT YOU RESPECT THEIR WISHES AND SO YOU WANT TO BE SURE THAT YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THOSE WISHES ARE. GET IT IN WRITING.
YOU’LL SAVE TIME AND MONEY – THE PROCESS TO OBTAIN GUARDIANSHIP IN ORDER TO HELP CARE FOR A PARENT WITH DEMENTIA MUST GO THROUGH THE COURTS, WHICH MEANS YOU’LL BE BURNING THROUGH TIME AND MONEY. A LOT OF TIME AND MONEY. IT CAN ALL BE AVOIDED WITH PROPERLY EXECUTED LEGAL DOCUMENTS. LET ME TELL YOU, I’VE SEEN FAMILIES HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE COURTS AND IT BREAKS MY HEART. DON’T LET THIS BE YOU.
YOUR AGING PARENT PRESERVES THEIR AUTONOMY – WHEN YOU SET UP A POWER OF ATTORNEY IT DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE TAKING AWAY YOUR POWER TO ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF. REASSURE YOUR LOVED ONE THAT EVEN IF THEY HAVE NAMED A PERSON TO ACT ON THEIR BEHALF, THEY CAN STILL DIRECT THE COURSE OF CARE AS LONG AS THEY’RE ABLE.
THESE CONVERSATIONS CAN BE TIME-CONSUMING AND INVOLVE MULTIPLE PARTIES – THE SOONER YOU GET STARTED, THE BETTER CHANCE YOU’LL HAVE OF TALKING THROUGH ANY BIG STICKING POINTS WITH YOUR AGING LOVED ONE OR OTHER RELATIVES. GIVE YOURSELF THE BEST POSSIBLE CHANCE OF WORKING THROUGH IT ALL AND GETTING IT EXACTLY RIGHT.
The bottom line is that it would thrill me to know that you read this and then made the arrangements to protect your parent’s wants and wishes. Give yourself a little piece of mind. You will not regret it.
Now, if you are a Real Estate professional in this space or you’d just like to work with the above 50 market in any capacity, I’ve got great news. I will be teaching a Senior Real Estate Specialist designation course coming in May 2018 so save the date and reach out to me at toni(at)tonipatillo(dotted)com for updates.