At Home Care for Seniors Resource: Elder Legal Concerns
We fill in the gaps in care so you can be there to help in other areas
As we age, we accumulate financial, medical and sentimental items that need to be kept safe. Because of this, we encourage all of our clients that are receiving at home care for seniors, and their families to be aware of the specific set of potential legal issues that can arise. Our staff strives to help people transition gracefully into their later years, providing them with both support and companionship.
That being said, there are some things that we can’t do, and you shouldn’t want us to. Powers of attorneys, living wills and any medical instructions regarding end of life care, for example, are all things that are better left as a family affair. Ultimately, the responsibility of these legal documents and decisions is up to the senior and their family caretakers. The best way to make sure that their instructions for their finances or health are taken care of is by making sure that anyone involved with their care, is aware of what may be needed.
Suggested Information to Collect and Store for Senior Legal Matters
The information below will detail the legal documents that are common for seniors to have on hand. Each of them will require specific information. As a leader in at home care for seniors, Comfort Keepers requires some of these documents when initial service is started. Hospitals, doctors, lawyers, tax professionals and others are likely to ask for them as well. It is best to have important documents gathered securely and stored together in a safe place so that the are easily accessible when needed.
- Self-Identifying Information: Birth Certificate and Social Security Number
- Medical Information: Insurance Number, Doctor’s Information, Medical History
- Note: Make a list of doctors including specialists and a list of all medications that a senior is currently taking
- Financial Records: Sources of Income, and Loan Records
- Asset Documentation: Investments, House Insurance Statements and Mortgage Papers
- Life Insurance Information: Policy Number and Documentation
- Will and Trust: Living Will, Advanced Directives, Advanced Medical Directives
- Binding Separation Documents: Divorce papers
- Special Arrangements: A written list of any additional special requests
Once all essential documents are gathered, you can utilize the following resources compiled by Comfort Keepers through experience providing at home care for seniors. For specifics about the law, filling out paperwork or any of the more legal details you will want to inquire with a lawyer that is familiar with the specific requirements of your province.
The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) can provide you with detailed legal information. This is another place to go and check about province laws or to find a lawyer.
For a vast array of information related to legal topics popular with the aging population, just follow this link to the CBA main website http://www.cba.org/CBA/sections_elder/main/.
Wills and Trusts
The elderly often requires paperwork that details what their final wishes are. As an at home care for seniors provider, we have seen how valuable that these documents can be for our client’s and their loved ones. Having the appropriate will and trust documents prepared in advance can make unexpected transitions easier, reducing stress and confusion during times when level-headed compassion is needed.
Wills and Advanced Directives
Wills are most often used to dictate who gets what when a person passes on. A living will provides more details and is enacted while the person is alive and can make decisions, but also includes additional directions, known commonly as advanced directives or Advanced Health Care Directives. These will either be in the form of instructions on what medical care is appropriate per their wishes and a durable power of attorney that says who is able to make the medical choices for them in case they are unable to do so on their own.
There are a few types of trusts and you will want to discuss which is right for you with an attorney. They can direct where money is directed to and for what purposes, such as in the case to provide dependent care for younger or disabled family members, to avoid probate or to assist with real estate directives.
Power of Attorney
Much like the medical power of attorney seen as an advanced directive in the living will, a standard power of attorney dictates who is to speak, make important legal decisions (not just medical) and personal care options for a person. With this document, seniors can document their wishes and give another person the authority to speak for them, in case they are unable to do so for themselves.