Some Things In Life Are a Shock

By Mildred V. Palmer, Attorney at Law

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC

Some things in life, like aging, are a shock. This past winter, when I threw a surprise party for my mother’s 90th birthday, I was amazed that she was actually getting old. Mom closed down her party at 2 am having danced with all of her nephews until the wee hours. But still, Mother is aging and taking care of her business is priority number one. What needs to be done? Quite a few things as it turns out.

  1. Establish a Care Plan. Thinking about a parent’s declining health is not a cheery subject and often families do not get around to putting plans for care in place until long after they are needed. I once had a client call to tell me his mother was naked at a corner deli. He asked what he should do. I responded, go to the deli quickly and bring clothes. After he brought his mom home, we met to discuss a care plan. When putting a care plan in place, consider the following:
    • Safety in the home. Is your parent’s residence safe? Think about stairs, bathrooms, door stoops and ramps, conditions of the property and the difficulty of maintenance.
    • Home Help, Care Providers and Drivers. Is it time to get some help in place? Maybe it’s time to hire a cleaning service, a laundry service and bring in meals. Maybe a daily visit from a care provider or hiring a driver will enable your parent to stay in their home longer.
    • Doctor’s advice. What do the doctors have to say? Talk to the primary care physician, the audiologist, the eye doctor and any other specialist your elderly relative or friend may need. Sometimes small adjustments in care can make a big difference.
    • Financial Care Plan. Determine what assets are available to support your elderly person and determine how you will access those assets.
  2. Execute a Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Documents. An aging person who signs a Power of Attorney for Health Care, Living Will and HIPAA authorization not only names an agent (child, younger generation friend, e.g.) to make health care decisions themselves in their stead, he or she also grants access to medical records, allows for medical billing questions to be resolved, and puts his or her wishes concerning ending life sustaining treatment in writing. Getting the right person in your life to help and then giving them the keys to helping you saves, heart ache, time, and in some cases, guardianship court.
  3. Execute a Power of Attorney for Property. By signing a Power of Attorney for Property an aging person can name who should act for them financially and with regard to property. Be cautious with this power of attorney:
    • Use the right form and make sure it is duly executed with disinterested witnesses and a notary;
    • Establish mental state prior to executing either with a doctor’s statement or with an impartial interview;
    • Have mom or dad take it to the bank and present it in person or otherwise follow bank and investment company procedure for powers of attorney. Do not assume that they are all the same or that one document fits all.
    • Estate Planning. Think about the inevitable. Losing a beloved relative is difficult. Compounding that with a disorganized estate and a family fight is unthinkable and avoidable. Have your relative outline their plan for the distribution of assets after death and develop an estate plan.

As a family member ages, problems can arise. Let’s face it, aging is not all surprise parties and birthday cake. Declining health, guardianship court, probate, family fights over her personal property, control issues over people and assets are all there waiting for you. Taking care of business is the first step to enjoying the time you have.

Should you have any questions about Power of Attorney for Health Care, Property or estate planning, or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law.

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.