~That mom and dad need a will or trust that says how their property will be distributed after their deaths;
~That a personal representative (a.k.a. executor) needs to be chosen to be in charge of their estate;
~That a healthcare representative (a.k.a. healthcare power of attorney or healthcare proxy) needs to be chosen to make healthcare decisions if mom or dad is unable to do so for themselves and one another;
~That conversations need to happen so that the family knows what to expect; and
~That steps need to be taken to ensure there will not be an unexpected tax bill or any other unexpected fees.
BUT, if you and your parents are like most people, you have procrastinated on getting everything together, and your family probably faces a HUGE headache and a HUGE legal bill if you wait until mom or dad has a stroke or some other accident or illness that makes them unable to legally sign documents.
The ONE DOCUMENT that can save you from the headache of not having a plan in place in this event is a Durable Power of Attorney. This will enable the person named to continue with estate and Medicaid planning for their incapacitated loved one. Without it, you will pay thousands of dollars and many months going to court to get that authority.
And I know exactly what you're thinking: "Oh, great! I saw one of those at the printing store/online/at my bank!" No. Do not rely on these two-page forms to help you if your aging parent or spouse has a stroke or is otherwise incapacitated. Those forms MAY be sufficient if all you need to deal with are simple bank accounts. But if you need to deal with any other types of property, such as real estate, securities, retirement accounts, business interests, and many other types of property, those forms will not be sufficient. You will need a Durable Power of Attorney that gives you express authority to deal with each type of property in question. The two-page form will probably also be insufficient to help you to apply for Medicaid or VA benefits for your loved one. This means that you will be paying out-of-pocket for medical expenses while paying a lawyer and waiting months to be able to apply for those benefits.
The best thing you can do is see an elder law attorney while your parent is still able to legally sign documents, so that they can at least get a comprehensive Durable Power of Attorney signed.
(Of course, the very best thing you can do is help your aging parents to get an entire plan in place that protects their wishes and plans for their future care.)
We are able to help with this important task that will make your life so much easier in the long run! Give us a call.
To your family's health & prosperity,
P.S. Want to get started on the most important planning you'll ever do for your family? Give our office a call at (503) 235-5150 to get started. You'll be glad you did.