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How to Help Your Aging Parent Create Designation Documents

At a certain point, it’s very likely that your elderly parent will want or need help handling their finances. In addition, they will also be thinking more about what types of end-of-life treatments they’d like to receive. While they may already have a Power of Attorney or Advanced Health Care Directives in place, there’s a chance that these documents could be outdated and do not reflect your parent’s current wishes or situation. This is why it’s important to have a set of designation documents created for your parent that matches up with their current stage of life.

A Durable Power of Attorney allows your parent to name an agent to act on their behalf concerning financial matters. In most cases, younger people have Springing Powers of Attorney that only become effective if they’re medically unable to make decisions for themselves, and must name a person to handle their finances while they’re incapacitated. However, for many of my older clients who have some health concerns, I often advise using an immediate Durable Power of Attorney, rather than one that requires more steps to use sometime in the future. An immediate Durable Power of Attorney would become effective upon signing, allowing an adult child to care for financial matters on behalf of their parent without having to prove any kind of medical disability. To determine if a Durable Power of Attorney is right for your parent, you should contact an elder law attorney to have them review your parent’s current situation.

A Health Care Power of Attorney is a type of Advanced Health Care Directive that allows your parent to name an agent to act on their behalf concerning medical matters in the event they become incapacitated, as well as leave instructions for end-of-life care. It’s important to review the Health Care Power of Attorney with your parents as they age since their feelings on end-of-life care may have changed, and especially if any of their agents, including a spouse, may have already passed away or may have dementia. You should also speak with your parents regarding the medical decisions they want made on their behalf, so you are clear on what their wishes are and what you may need to do in order to carry them out. In addition to the Health Care Power of Attorney, another type of Advanced Health Care Directive is called a Living Will.  An experienced elder lawyer can provide guidance regarding the elements of Health Care Powers of Attorney and  Living Wills to help your parent make a decision that’s best for their individual situation.

If you would like to learn more about helping your elderly parents create designation documents, or if you’d like to discuss your parent’s existing designation documents and whether they match their current situation, please set up an appointment at our Greensboro elder law office by calling (336) 378-1122.

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