Aging Parents: 4 Important Legal Documents

Fifty-five percent of caregivers feel overwhelmedDelaying preparation to deal with the illness, disability, incapacitation or death of a parent is understandable.  It is something most of us would rather not consider.  However, you can save yourself a tremendous amount of time, energy and perhaps money by being sure your parent has the following:

* An updated and valid will which ensures that your parent’s belongings, money or property will be allocated according to his/her wishes.  A current will reduces the likelihood of family conflict and an extended and complicated probate process.  If a valid will does not exist, the court may determine how property and possessions will be dispersed.

* A durable power of attorney which allows a designated person to make legally binding decisions for your parent (such as signing checks or making housing choices) should he/she become incapacitated.  Having a Durable Power of Attorney in place means the family can avoid the harrowing process of going to court to have a guardian named to oversee your parent’s care and finances.

* A living will specifies your parent’s wishes, in writing, as to the medical procedures to be performed if they become terminally ill.  With a Living Will, your parent decides, in advance, specific medical procedures to be administered and the circumstances for disconnecting any life-support treatment.  It can also specify who among family, friends or doctors will have the power to decide when to make a decision to disconnect life support systems.

* A durable power of attorney for healthcare is a legal document which allows your parent to designate a person to make certain decisions for them regarding their medical care, should they become unable to do so.  The typical distinction between a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare is that a Living Will usually deals only with medical decisions related to “end of life” situations.  A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare can be drafted to enable your parent to appoint a “healthcare agent” for a number of different medical situations which may arise not necessarily related to “end of life” situations.

Your EAP is here to help

If you need help with caring for an aging parent, your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can provide you with counseling, referrals or information on eldercare issues such as: housing options, preparing wills and advance healthcare directives, long-distance caregiving, protecting and maximizing financial resources, healthcare, community and home-care services, dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease or other disorders, etc.  Remember, your EAP is always available to help you with any type of personal, family or work-related concern.  Why not call an EAP counselor today?  We’re here to help.

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