Legal Documents Every Senior Needs

There are some essential legal documents every senior needs to have in place before a medical crisis happens. These documents should be prepared before an emergency occurs, or it may be too late. If an elderly parent does not yet have these legal documents ready, it is time have an open and honest conversation with mom or dad. Furthermore, although these legal documents are necessary when an individual passes away, they are also vital in other situations. These include moving to an assisted living facility, a hospitalization, entering a rehabilitation facility, or going into hospice care.

Legal Documents

Advanced Health Care Directive. Also known as a living will or medical directive, this legal document allows you to outline instructions about you own health care. It also provides the opportunity to name a health care power of attorney to make all health care decisions on your behalf should you become medically incapatiticated to do so. Furthermore, this important legal document states end-of-life decisions including the choice to prolong or not to prolong life and relief from pain. A HIPAA release authority is also a part of Advanced Health Care Directive. This gives a designated family member full access to your health information and medical records.

Financial Power of Attorney.  This document allows you to designate an individual to legally act on your behalf in all matters of your financial life such as selling and buying property, selling stocks and bonds, paying bills, and managing money in bank accounts.

Revocable Living Trust. Sometimes referred to as a living trust, this document is an effective estate planning tool. A trust allows heirs to receive assets from an estate without going through probate which can be a time-consuming, costly, and difficult process. The document names a trustee who is legally and morally bound to manage the trust and carry out the express wishes of the trust.

Last Will and Testament. Even if you have a living trust, it is may be beneficial to also write a will. A will is a legal document which covers disposition of all assets which have not been placed in the trust. A will also allows you to name a guardian for minors or an adult child with special needs.

If these legal documents are not prepared prior to death, then the state becomes the executor of the estate. This is called intestate.  The state will determine how to distribute property and in what order the property is distributed. Not having legal documents in place also allows any blood relative to make a claim against an estate.



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