According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2020, about one in every six people was over the age of 65. As loved ones age, their well-being and protection become paramount concerns.
Aging parents may face various challenges, including cognitive issues that require you to step in to protect them. It can help to know the legal options available to help protect your elderly parent’s interests.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone, often a trusted family member or friend, to manage a person’s financial and legal affairs when they are no longer capable. There are two primary types: a financial POA, which handles financial matters, and a healthcare POA, which oversees medical decisions.
Living will and healthcare proxy
A living will or an advance healthcare directive outlines your parent’s preferences regarding medical treatments in case they become unable to express their wishes. A healthcare proxy designates someone to make healthcare decisions on their behalf. Together, these legal documents can provide clarity and ensure your parent receives the medical care they desire.
Guardianship or conservatorship
In cases where an elderly parent cannot make decisions due to mental incapacity and there is no power of attorney in place, pursuing guardianship or conservatorship may be necessary. This legal process appoints a responsible individual, often a family member, to make decisions for the incapacitated parent. It involves court proceedings and is typically for situations where other options are unavailable or ineffective.
Will and estate planning
A well-drafted will is essential to outline the distribution of your parent’s assets and property upon their passing. Estate planning may also involve trusts to protect assets, reduce tax liabilities and provide for the elderly parent’s care and future generations.
Setting up trusts, such as revocable living trusts or irrevocable trusts, can be an effective way to protect your parent’s assets. Trusts can provide specific instructions on how to manage and distribute assets, and they can minimize the risk of financial exploitation.
Long-term care planning
If your elderly parent requires long-term care, planning for their care and the associated costs is essential. Long-term care insurance, Medicaid planning and healthcare directives can help ensure your parent receives the appropriate care without depleting their assets.
Protecting an elderly parent involves various legal considerations and options. It is important to take proactive steps and work within the legal framework to provide the best possible care and protection for your elderly loved one.