Discovery Health answered:
An essential portion of long-term health care planning entails a visit to an attorney's office. Advance medical directives are legal papers that provide instructions for your loved ones on what should be done if a medical emergency arises. A living will details to what degree of life-sustaining measures or life support you desire. It can be uncomfortable to consider whether you want a feeding tube in your final days, but facts like these must be contemplated. A health care proxy designates an individual of your choosing to make medical decisions for you, if you can't make them yourself.
For non-health-related matters, aging parents might want to think about a power of attorney, which designates someone to carry out tasks such as writing checks or paying bills if you are unable to do so. And if you have very clear-cut ideas about who should receive your assets, then you'll want to draw up a will or consider establishing a trust. Caregivers should be aware of the location of all these legal documents; after all, if the living will is stored in a safe-deposit box that no one can access, then there is no guarantee that the aging person will get the care he or she wants.
So far, we're presuming that the aging parents can participate in these legal conversations, but should they refuse to have discussions about a living will or power of attorney, then a caregiver might have to seek a court to obtain guardianship. When a caregiver is in possession of guardianship over a parent, he or she has the legal right to make decisions on every facet of an aging parent's life, from financial matters to life-sustaining treatments. In comparison, a conservatorship, however, only authorizes decision-making powers over the finances. As you might foresee, guardianships can ignite bitter arguments between siblings, especially if one feels that the other is seeking Mom's money. If conflicts arise, you might need to find a mediator.
If you're a caregiver helping a parent through this process, use this time to gather your own legal documents. Likely, caregiving will give you a glimmer into of how you yourself want to be taken care of in your old age, and supplying these documents to your own family will benefit all later.An essential portion of long-term health care planning entails a visit to an attorney's office. Advance medical directives are legal papers that provide instructions for your loved ones on what should be done if a medical emergency arises. A living... More