Life Event Planning for Seniors
Oasis Senior Advisors Austin/Central Texas often encounters families in destress when assisting families planning a discharge. We find that the families first barriers to assisting their loved plan have an appropriate discharge is a lack of previous legal planning. We asked Virginia Sampson to give our families an overview and she came up with this great post. If you are a senior or have a senior loved one who is older then 65, it’s never to early to start planning for those life/health events. The first step is having those critical documents in place. We highly recommend every senior have their critical documents in place before they ever need them. Nothing is more stressful on a family then planning a discharge in 24-48 hours and needing to get some much done quickly. Life happens and having your documents in place will make your discharges so much easier for all involved. Thank you, Virginia for your Blog post, to help families understand these complex decisions.
John Brown CSA, Oasis Senior Advisors Austin/Central Texas.
My Loved one is ill and/or rapidly declining. I don’t know what to do.
Our health can deteriorate quickly and dramatically especially as we age. When this happens, life becomes very stressful. Perhaps you have depended on this person for support both emotional and financial or perhaps this person was very independent but is no longer capable of living alone or making any decisions.
There are many things to attend to and so many unknowns. How can we afford long term care? Who will make decisions for that person now? How can I manage all of this and continue to live my own life? It seems overwhelming.
Should I plan for Aging and Illness? If so how?
We typically plan for the big events in our life like starting a family, paying for a college, buying a house or retirement. Yet somehow, we often fail to plan for the aging or illness process.
The best course of action is to have a plan with the help of a professional. Obviously early planning will achieve the best result, but it is never too late to plan.
Companies like Oasis Senior Advisors can assist in finding a long-term care community that is a good fit.
Medical professionals assist you to manage and create a plan for healthcare needs.
Financial advisors can help marshal assets to pay for the additional healthcare costs and even the community.
Do I need a Lawyer to help plan? What can they do for us?
We are all familiar with Wills and the purpose of that documents. However, did you know that family members including spouses cannot make financial decisions without written authority from the person who is incapacitated. This includes sale of a house or managing separate investment accounts.
No one, including a spouse, is entitled to get information regarding another’s health care. You can be precluded from obtaining information as simple as knowing the sick person’s prescriptions or next medical appointment.
Lawyers can help you answer the following questions:
- Who do you want to make medical decisions for you in the event you cannot?
- Who do you want to make financial decisions for you in the event you cannot?
- Who do you want to have access to your medical records?
- What are you end of life wishes?
I want to avoid going to Court. How can I do that?
With the proper legal documents, you or your loved one can designate an agent to make decisions while you or your loved one are even temporarily incapacitated. Obtaining these documents is a simple and relatively inexpensive process. However, if you don’t have these documents when you or your loved one becomes incapacitated then a guardian may have to be appointed by the court. This requires hiring a lawyer who files a guardianship proceeding in a court where a judge decides who the guardian will be. This is expensive, time consuming, can take some time and can even be contentious if anyone contests the proceeding. Even the incapacitated person can contest the need for appointment of a guardian. You can see how this can easily spin out of control and become very, very stressful and expensive.
Can a Lawyer help me find out if my loved one is eligible for government benefits to pay for long term care?
Elder Law attorneys, such as I, help families qualify for government benefits to help pay for long term care such as Medicaid and Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits. I focused my practice on helping seniors and their adult children as a result of helping my parents with the aging process.
Is it Expensive to hire a lawyer?
Lawyers do charge for their services. However, as with most planning, a small amount of money and time spent now can avoid an expensive and stressful future crisis.
Is it too late to plan if my loved one is already ill or declining?
A person must have a certain mental capacity to execute these documents, so it is important to do them as soon as possible. I find with my older clients that they are much more likely to agree to execute these before they become ill. Once people are ill, they feel vulnerable and of course people with dementia can become paranoid. When those situations occur, it is much more difficult to get the cooperation of that person to do any planning. People with dementia may still be able to execute these documents.
What are the basic documents my loved one or I should have?
- A Durable Power of Attorney
- A Medical Power of Attorney
- A HIPAA Authorization
- An Advance Directive
- A Declaration of Guardian
Forbes magazine recently published an article advising that even college students should have these documents.
There may be other issues specific to your situation that an attorney can advise you about. So, contact an attorney to start preparing your plan.
I don’t know many people who were unhappy they planned for aging and illness, but I do know a whole bunch who are unhappy they didn’t plan.