For adult children raising kids of their own, assuming the role of caregiver for one’s parents can be extraordinarily difficult without the help of proper legal documents. We have discussed the importance of The Talk. The information gleaned from this discussion provides a foundation for the creation of effective legal documents that express and protect your parents’ wishes. These documents include a Will, a Power of Attorney, a Living Will/Healthcare Proxy, and a HIPAA Medical Release. Let’s take a quick look at these documents.
A Will directs how a person’s estate is to be administered and how his or her assets will be distributed after death. The person who creates the Will is called the Testator while the individual who settles the estate is known as the Executor. Naming the Executor and specifying “who gets what” in advance can help eliminate family infighting.
A Power of Attorney allows an individual to name someone (the Agent) to act on his or her behalf in the event of incapacity. The Agent can make decisions regarding property as well as legal, financial, and personal matters.
A Living Will details a person’s wishes concerning his or her medical care, including artificial life support, surgery, or other medical treatments related to an end of life situation or permanent unconsciousness. A Healthcare Proxy names a trusted person to make medical decisions on behalf of an individual who has become incapacitated.
A HIPAA Medical Release allows people to specify who has access to their medical information. Without a HIPAA Release, family members may be denied access to medical and insurance records in an emergency.
Effective estate planning can include many other strategies and tools to accomplish a wide range of goals, but the above documents are absolutely essential to carrying out your parents’ wishes and fostering harmony among extended family members.
Next time, we’ll discuss two additional tips.