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Legal and Financial Planning

lehvaladm      -

Legal and Financial Planning

Many people are unprepared to deal with the legal and financial consequences of a serious issue such as Alzheimer’s disease.  Legal and medical experts recommend that financial and health care arrangements be examined as soon as possible, especially because persons may lose the ability to think clearly and participate in discussions.  An elder law attorney can prepare basic legal documents, such as a will, power of attorney, living will, health care power of attorney and help develop a plan to protect assets.This will help to ensure that the person’s objectives are carried out. Advance planning can help to ensure that the person with Alzheimer’s and their family can clarify their wishes and make well-informed decisions about health care and financial arrangements.

An elder lawyer should be retained as soon as the person is diagnosed to make sure that the person’s wishes are carried out.  An elder lawyer will also help families learn how to preserve financial assets while caring for their loved ones.

What are the legal documents that people need?

Financial Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Atttorney gives that person the ability to handle the individual’s finances, do their banking, write checks, make deposits.  This avoids the court having to go through a guardianship proceeding to take away the rights of the Alzheimer’s patient in order to appoint another person or lawyer to handle the patient’s financial affairs.

Living Will specifies what life-sustaining treatment may or may not be available according to the signed wishes of the patient if the person is in a terminal condition.  It may specify whether any other individual is named to make decisions for that person in an end-of-life situation and whether they must be bound by the terms of the Living Will.

Health Care Power of Attorney gives the person named in the document the right to receive medical Information and records of the patient and make decisions, but does not apply when the patient is in a terminal condition.

Will indicates how that person’s estate and assets are to be distributed upon their death.  It may include funeral and burial arrangements.  It will normally appoint an executor to handle the affairs of the person after death.

Living Will or Revocable Trust is a substitute for a will which avoids going through the court process known as probate when you die.  In many instances the estate costs less since probate is avoided and the matter is not available to the public. You are the sole owner of the trust, which means that you or whoever you choose to be your alternate trustee manage it.  Changes to the trust language can be made at any time and real estate can be bought or sold.  The trust also is advantageous over a will if you own property in different states.