Senior Care Bellevue WA: Elder Care Legal and Financial Checklist
Preparing your legal and financial situation properly is not always an easy or pleasant task but it is an important one for seniors and their family to complete. Working through a comprehensive list of considerations can help make the task easier and will identify resources and decisions about senior care and your property.
Durable Power of Attorney
Durable power of attorney is a legal document naming someone to act on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions about your own care, either mentally or physically. This person has legal permission to pay your bills, direct your medical care and make other financial decisions for you.
There are two types of durable power of attorney:
- Medical-Durable power of attorney for health care allows a selected person to make medical choices on your behalf if you are not able to do so. This person will be the point of contact for your doctors and other medical personnel.
- Financial-Durable power of attorney for finances is the person who has authority to make financial choices and transactions on your behalf. This may include power over your real estate, social security, investments, tax returns and paying your bills.
Note that you do not have to select the same person as your durable attorney for medical care and finances but you certainly may. However, it is a good idea to create separate documents naming the durable power of attorney for health care and one for the durable power of attorney for finances. This helps keeps the issues separate and provides a clear directive for your family and others.
Also known as an advanced care directive, a living will provides instructions for your care if you are unable to make decisions on your own. Establishing a durable power of attorney for medical decisions is often part of creating an advanced care directive.
In your advanced care directive, you can provide instructions regarding organ donation and your wishes regarding the use of CPR, prolonged use of a respirator, blood cultures and other invasive diagnostic tests, artificial nutrition through a tube or IV and/or blood transfusions. In addition, an advanced care directive may include a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. A DNR states that you do not wish to have measures taken to restore your heartbeat or breathing if either or both stop.
Spend the time thinking about how you feel regarding these issues and speak with your family about your wishes and theirs before completing the advanced care directive.
Long Term Care Insurance
Another important factor in elder care is long term care insurance (LTCI), which helps cover the cost of your medical and living expenses not covered by traditional health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.
Long term care insurance helps cover the cost of home senior care, adult daycare, nursing home, assisted living and other out-of-pocket costs associated with elderly care. Note that some insurance companies require a waiting period before the LTCI policy goes into effect. Check with your insurance company for more information.
Income and Expenses
Another important element in preparing for the costs of care and transitioning of financial control to family members includes writing down important financial information for your family to use as needed.
This information should include the following:
- Monthly income sources-Write down your regular sources of income, such as social security or pensions. Include your account information and policy numbers.
- Monthly expenses-Write down your monthly expenses, such as your mortgage or rent, utility bills, cable, television, phone and any other bills that you are responsible for on a monthly basis. Include your account number and any passwords for online access.
A will identifies the division of your property and assets after your death. Here are some of the basics to consider:
- Property-Clearly identify who is to receive ownership of your property, whether it is a person or an organization. Be aware that property and estate taxes can be complicated, so contact a local lawyer to help you figure out how to pay the state and federal taxes and how to keep your property out of probate court.
- Executor-The executor makes certain that the terms of the will occur according to your wishes.
A trust is an estate plan for minor children to whom you wish to leave money but want to manage its execution. Several elements will help avoid problems for those working to establish the trust.
- Life insurance trust-An irrevocable life insurance trust will put the proceeds from your life insurance policy back into your estate while protecting the proceeds from federal estate taxes. Speak with your life insurance company about setting up an irrevocable life insurance trust associated with your life insurance policy.
Ensure that your money goes to minors as you wish by determining the amount of money that you wish for each minor child to receive each year. You may also determine an age at which the final lump sum will pay out to the child, such as after college graduation or age 25.
In addition, you can ensure that the money goes to funding the education of minor children by specifying the use of the money, such as tuition or school fees.
A charitable trust can specify that some or all of your money is to go towards a charity or charities of your choice.
While getting your financial situation and wishes in order can be time consuming, doing so will make life easier for you and your family as your health progresses or in case you are no longer able to make decisions on your own.
For information about senior care for your loved one, contact our caregivers at Andelcare. Fill out our web form or call 425-283-0408.