Senior Planning




Of all the challenging decisions involving a senior, the hardest has to be the maze of choices involving care options.  When a senior lacks mental or physical capacity to live alone, the choices are not obvious. Can the senior continue to stay home with a little extra help? Are personal care homes capable of providing appropriate medical care?  Will the high quality of life focus provided by assisted living facilities deplete the senior’s lifetime savings available?  Do the long-term care needs of the senior justify the high costs of 24-hour skilled care of a nursing home?  Can the senior’s funds be used to make improvements to a child’s home to allow the senior to move in (e.g. in-law suite).  Before facing the long-term care decisions, hopefully the senior executed documents specifying the individual in charge and the scope of authority.  A health care advance directive (aka health care power of attorney) specifies the individual that will make medical choices and the intentions of the senior with respect to the end of life choices.  A financial power of attorney specifies the individual that will handle the assets and the corresponding authority and limitations.  Of course, the powers of attorney are only utilized when the senior does not have mental capacity to manage his/her own decisions.  However, when a senior does not execute documents prior to losing capacity, the options are typically limited to court intervention.  Every state has a process by which an incapacitated individual can have a person appointed to manage his/her finances and assets (Conservator or Guardian of the Property) and a person appointed to manage his/her health care decisions (Guardian of the Person).


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