You’ve become a full-time caregiver for your senior parent.
In addition to helping an aging loved one with activities of daily life (ADLs), such as bathing or grooming, you are probably also helping them manage their financial affairs.
Even if your parent is fortunate enough to live in a senior community that provides assisted living services, you’re probably still responsible for their legal and financial matters.
What legal paperwork should you have on hand to not just to pay for senior living, but to be prepared for an emergency?
Gathering the items on this handy checklist can make it easier to keep your loved one’s finances in order.
Last Will & Testament
This legal document is one of the most important to have should your loved one pass away. It indicates who receives their assets, including real estate, savings, and perhaps even household items with monetary value or sentimental significance.
Although seventy percent of Americans don’t have a will, helping your loved one draw one up can reduce fights or hassles over cash and property, and can also prevent having money left in probate until the court decides who should receive it.
Store the will in a fireproof safe with digital copies in a secure location.
This legal document gives the caregiver the authority to make financial, business, and legal decisions on behalf of their senior loved one. If the older adult in your care has Alzheimer’s or otherwise become incapacitated, this document makes decision making less complicated.
Life Insurance Documents and Other Investment Paperwork
While not legal documents, per se, having all relevant paperwork and account numbers handy for investments and accounts will make it easier for the person with power-of-attorney to access cash when it’s needed. It is especially helpful in an emergency.
A living will tells medical professionals the extent to which your loved one wants end-of-life care. For instance, they might request palliative care but request that measures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation or life support systems not be used. A living will may also include wishes regarding organ donation or autopsy.
While this document doesn’t affect finances, it can prevent disputes amongst family members and keep caregivers from having to make difficult decisions on their own.
Health-care Proxy and HIPAA Authorization
While a living will outlines a person’s medical wishes, a health care proxy gives the caregiver the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the person.
In order to exercise your right as a health-care proxy, however, you’ll need your aging loved one to sign a Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization form, which gives you legal access to their medical records.
The Power to Make the Right Decisions
From paying for assisted living to making difficult choices about your loved one’s medical treatments, having the right legal paperwork in place and the necessary documents accessible can make life easier during this challenging time.