In my last blog, I was scrambling to post about last-minute preparations before severe storms and hurricanes in light of Hurricane Ian which ravaged our beautiful state. One of the tips that stuck out to me involved keeping important, perishable items safe and dry by putting them in a storage bin and locking them in the dishwasher, which should be watertight.
As I thought about all of the important documents my husband and I have in our possession and hastily packed in our own dishwasher, I became concerned about the safety of seniors living independently and the existence, storage, and protection of their legal documents.
The most 5 most important legal documents that seniors should possess and protect include:
Health Care Power of Attorney
According to US Legal Services, “The health care power of attorney document allows you to choose whom you’d like to have as your representative if you are unable to communicate or make your own medical decisions. Clearly, you need this person to be a responsible one, someone who will honor your wishes as best as circumstances allow.”
Financial Power of Attorney
This is a serious decision that should be made carefully. Choose someone to manage your finances who can make sure your bills are paid and legal matters are handled properly, in the event you become incapacitated or incapable of handling these crucial decisions.
Sometimes, grandparents become legal guardians of young children when their parents are unable to care for them. In these cases, guardianship arrangements should be made to ensure that the welfare of a child in a senior’s care is further protected in the event of the grandparent’s death. Legal guardianship documents ensure that the safety and welfare of a child are protected.
This is exactly what the name implies. A living will is a document with directives for family and healthcare providers to know exactly how they should proceed with your care in the event you cannot communicate your wishes with them. It may include a DNR – Do Not Resuscitate document, and explicit instructions about palliative care, organ donation, etc. With a legal living will in place, there should be no confusion between family members or healthcare providers as to what you want or don’t want if you become uncommunicative or incapacitated.
Last Will and Testament
“Finally, be sure to draft a will that specifies who should inherit your possessions, including your money, your home/other properties, furniture, jewelry and other possessions or assets. People who inherit are considered your beneficiaries, and you need to be very specific about what goes to whom. You will also need to carefully consider your choice of executor; this person will need to carry out the specifics of your will. You can choose to hire an attorney or a bank to perform these duties for a fee. If you are instead selecting a family member or friend, be clear about whether or not he or she will be compensated and, if so, how. Your will needs to be witnessed, with the specifics varying by state. Keep your will in a place that’s safe, but easily accessible by those who will need to have the document quickly after your death.”
I hope you have these documents in place, but if you don’t, I strongly recommend you make the necessary arrangements to have these documents legally drafted, notarized and/or witnessed, and made available to your spouse, family members, POA, or executor.
I have a group of Power Partners in my Community Warriors group that can help sort many of the details and provide advice as you make end-of-life preparations and draft legal documentation. If a professional caregiver can help you now or in the future, I will gladly sit down with you for a FREE consultation to answer your questions and provide guidance and support with whatever resources you may need.
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2016-2022 and the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2022. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠
US Legal Services