Just as our parents took care of us when we were kids, there might come a time when you have to step up and care for your parents. This will happen if they become incapacitated through a physical or mental illness. You could become their primary caregiver even if they are going to be living in an assisted community. When that happens, there are legal issues to contend with. Here’s what you need to know:
Durable Power of Attorney
Each state has their own standards when it comes to determining mental competence. That is crucial when deciding who can enter into a legal agreement. Someone in the beginning stages of dementia might still be deemed competent. In that case, a durable power of attorney agreement should be set up. This will allow you to make any type of legal decision with regard to finances and care on your parent’s behalf. The durable power of attorney has to be signed by both parties, which is why it is important to set this up at the earliest diagnosis.
Set Up a Will
If your parent is healthy and without any mental issues, then it is important for them to set up a will that can establish various directives. This is a good time to create an inventory of assets and liabilities. When this document is prepared, it will be a good time to inform the family. Later on, there could issues with regard to mental capacity and whether that person was fit to sign a will. The more information you share with everyone, the less chance there will be of any disputes.
Some states require driving tests for elderly drivers as part of their annual registration renewal process. However, just because someone passes the vision test and application doesn’t automatically mean they should be driving. Unfortunately, most states don’t have restrictions against someone with early stages of dementia having a driver’s license. This might mean that you and your family will have to step up and make those restrictions yourself.
Advanced directives are also referred to as end-of-life directives. These are the kinds of issues that are usually written up in a document that are specifically requested by the parent. They most often have to do with what kind of extraordinary measures would be taken to keep someone alive. Advanced directives can actually be a comfort because you won’t have to make those difficult decisions. They’re already made.
The more you work out these issues when everyone is healthy and can be an active participant, the better off it will be for the whole family. As you help set up your parents legal issues, it should also inspire you to get your own affairs in order. Life can change very quickly.