The best time for anyone to create an estate plan is when they are healthy — and that is especially true for older adults. Here are three reasons why an estate plan for your aging parent is essential.
An important document in an estate plan is a durable power of attorney (POA) for financial matters. The POA designates the individual who will make financial decisions for the person signing the POA, if that person becomes unable to manage their own finances.
In the absence of the document, a family member may have to petition the court to be appointed as conservator for your parent. The conservator may not be the person your parent would choose to have that significant responsibility.
No one should ever create a POA (or any other legal document) using a form or online service. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney is the only way to ensure that a POA complies with all requirements of Georgia law and protects the person signing it.
Just like managing finances, the responsibility for providing personal care and making medical decisions in the event of incapacity can only be delegated to another person using a legal document. Every estate plan should include an advance directive to ensure your parent names the person to make these decisions if they no longer can.
Without this document, it may be necessary for a family member to ask the court to name a guardian and health care agent for your parent. These decisions often lead to disagreements and disputes among family members, which makes a difficult situation even worse (especially for your parent).
Your parent should talk with an experienced estate planning attorney before signing any legal document. Using pre-printed forms or online services for any estate planning documents is a significant mistake.
Most individuals eventually require some type of long-term care services or a stay in a nursing home. With advance planning, public benefits like Medicaid may help pay for these costs. Other benefits may be available as well. Waiting until the need for care exists can impair your parent’s ability to qualify for benefits and still protect their assets.
An experienced elder law attorney has the knowledge to explore all potential sources of benefits for an individual as part of the estate planning process. For your parent to avoid missing the available opportunities to receive benefits and risking an unnecessary drain of finances and assets, it is essential to plan in advance before long-term services and nursing home care are necessary.
In our Cartersville elder law practice at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia, we help elders and their families address all the unique needs of aging adults. Estate planning, Medicaid planning, and nursing home planning are essential parts of our services. If you have questions about an estate plan for your aging parent or for yourself, we can answer all your questions and help you make the right decisions.
We provide elder law and planning services to clients throughout the communities northwest of Atlanta, including in Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County and Paulding County. Call us at (770) 382-0984 or contact us through our online form.