Have you done a Power of Attorney? How about a Living Will? Then there is your regular Will to get in order. So many people leave the paperwork until it is too late and it can become a nightmare for the family. Your children may not know what your wishes are or have any opportunity to carry them out if things aren’t in writing.
For those people who don’t get along with family members, consider getting things in order with a close friend. You never know when your life might change drastically.
My Mother, who is 83, had a number of falls recently but wasn’t sharing the information with any of her children or her close friends. Luckily my daughter had picked up something was wrong when she talked to her on the phone. She just didn’t know what it was. I phoned her and kept asking questions until I got the information out of her about the falls. I headed down to see her right away.
The first day she managed to hide what was happening to her. She is a very strong, independent woman. By the late evening though it was evident something was very wrong. She was extremely agitated and there was paranoia and delusions happening. I took her to the hospital. After blood work and other tests the doctor determined that her system was extremely low in sodium and potassium. She was also dealing with a urinary tract infection. I won’t go into the medical details but these are 3 of the most common things causing dizziness, confusion, and falls in seniors.
We didn’t know how long it would take for her to recover and whether there was any permanent damage from her falls. In the meantime it was necessary to look after her financial affairs.
Luckily she had made me a joint signer on to her regular bank accounts that she uses for paying bills. Until she is better though and can give a couple of her children Power of Attorney, we can’t look after her investments for her. We also can’t make decisions for her about continuing life support if she takes a turn for the worst. Even though we know what she wants, it’s not in writing.
So far my Mother is improving daily and we will hopefully get a chance to help her set things up. When she is no longer able to look after her own affairs or live independently, we will be able to carry out her wishes.
6 Legal Steps to take:
- Talk openly about what your aging parent wants if he or she gets sick and can’t handle looking after personal affairs for a short time or longer time.
- Make arrangements for one family member to have joint signing rights on bank accounts as well as access to safety deposit boxes.
- Have your parent talk to a Notary Public to arrange Power of Attorney for short and long term illnesses and also write a Will. Both of these are very simple procedures unless the estate is a complicated one involving corporate businesses, etc.
- Have a Living Will drawn up and notarized. Simple forms are available.
- Have car transfer papers already made out to a family member, should the time come to sell the car.
- Look into segregated funds (in Canada) for investments. That way the principal amount is protected and the investments don’t have to go through probate.
Please give this article to your aging parents to read before it is too late for them to make sure their wishes are carried out.