Brought to you by: Community Partner Bradford & Holliman
Home care or hospice is stressful for families, but some legal tools can relieve at least some of the stress. With home care, families are faced with hiring an agency or becoming a direct employer of caregivers; both involve writing a lot of checks.
A specific Power of Attorney naming an adult child is better than adding a child to the parent’s checking account in most cases. When the parent passes away, the assets in the Power of Attorney-managed bank account remain part of the estate to be divided as the will specifies. However, if one child is on the parent’s checking account, at the parent’s death, that entire checking account becomes the property of that child and is not divided according to a will’s terms.
Be sure a Durable Power of Attorney covers both financial and healthcare decisions. It is okay to have the sibling who just happens to be a CPA oversee the financial matters and the sibling who is in healthcare oversee the healthcare decisions. Healthcare directives are still needed. And the will could specify yet another sibling as the executor since, after the parent’s demise, the power of attorney has no power.
A critical factor is to set up these legal tools in advance since many patients requiring home care or hospice may no longer be legally competent, especially in cases of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. A family should have their parent’s net worth summary or at least a listing of all financial accounts, contacts, and beneficiary designations because these factors impact filing for Medicaid, if needed, and eventually, the settling of an estate.
Since powers of attorney aren’t valid after death, families need to plan funeral and burial plans. If using a will, pre-need plans for the funeral and burial may be useful in reducing families’ stress. A trust can continue after death and handle these plans. When in her upper 90s, one lady (who lived to be over 100) had a trust in place, a power of attorney, healthcare directives, and set up her pre-need plan with her local funeral home. Her heirs were ever so grateful.
If you have an elderly family member facing home care or hospice, check with a qualified estate attorney to make sure that you have the right legal tools in place during this stressful time.
-Melanie B. Holliman, JD
Partner at Bradford & Holliman
Estate Planning, Trusts & Special Needs
No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.