Legal Considerations for Seniors
If you or a loved one is a senior, its time to properly consider all the legal issues surrounding your assets and health care!
There comes a time where we all must think about our own mortality. This is a tough conversation to have with your lawyer and loved ones, but it is a critically important one to have! Ensuring your legal affairs are in order can affect how your estate is managed if you are faced with a debilitating disease or death. It will also ensure you receive the level of care you request, and will lay out how decisions are made concerning your health care when you are unable to make these decisions on your own.
All of these situations include important and life-altering decisions that should not be taken lightly, and should all be planned in advance.
Retire-At-Home in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge has offered this brief introduction of some of the legal issues you should consider as a senior. We highly encourage you to consult a local lawyer for more information on the subjects covered. We can recommend a good lawyer in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge region if you don’t already have one.
Advanced Health Care Directives (Living Wills)
Advance Directive is a crucial legal document that outlines the type of medical treatment and health care decisions that will be made when you are not able to make these decision for yourself any longer.
Advance Directives are often in two forms: a Living Will and the Power of Attorney. A Living Will provides the actual instructions on your treatments should you become incapacitated. A Power of Attorney for health care appoints the person of your choosing to make any decisions on your behalf.
Both forms of Advance Directives should be discussed with your lawyer, as well as your loved ones. You should also give copies of these documents to family members, doctors, and other trusted individuals, so that the instructions are followed precisely. Be sure to take time to discuss your wishes and leave the instructions with those people you most trust to follow them through.
Wills and Trusts
Your Will should also be discussed with your lawyer. A Will outlines who receives your personal possessions after you die. This can prevent fights between family members, and can save time and money for everyone involved, including your estate. If you are married, both spouses should have a will, and update them regularly to reflect any changes that may occur to the estate such as adding a new asset that is recently been purchased.
Trusts are also a common option, which are used to for a dependent family member or assist in estate and tax planning after the trust holder passes away. There are many types of trusts, including a living trust, which can avoid probate (in which a court decides the settlement and tax value of an estate).
Power of Attorney (POA)
Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives a loved one the right to act on your behalf when you are no longer capable of doing so. The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee has a Power of Attorney Kit that you can use. This will guide you in appointing someone to make your important decisions when the time comes. For financial decisions, legal authority is required. You can give this authority by naming someone in a continuing power of attorney for property.
Gathering Critical Information for these Decisions
The following is a list of information that is recommended to have organized and stored in a safe, but easy-to-access location:
- Birth certificate
- Social Insurance Number
- Life insurance information, including policy number
- Names and addresses of family doctor and other specialists involved in your care
- Special arrangements made for health care, including advance directives
- Funeral prearrangements
- Trust documents
- Sources of income and assets
- Bank statements and safe deposit box locations
- Mortgage papers
- Investment records
- Negotiable securities
- Credit card information
- Most recent income tax return
- Loan papers