Power of Attorney & Living Wills –
Legal Considerations for Seniors
The personal legal factors that we need to manage become ever more important as we age.
How one’s effects are left behind, the level of care they receive, and how decisions are made in their stead are all factors seniors must determine as they age. Living wills, powers of attorney, and instructions pertaining to life sustaining treatments are the three major legal documents that are crucial to have towards the end of one’s life.
The following information is meant to be a brief introduction of the legal matters seniors should be thinking about. For more complete information on the subjects covered, please consult your lawyer.
Advanced Health Care Directives (Living Wills)
This critical document stipulates the kinds of medical intervention and long-term care choices that should be made on your behalf should you be unable to make the decisions yourself.
Two forms of advance directives exist: a living will, and the Power of Attorney.
A Living Will is a document that specifies the instructions on the health care treatments that should be provided after one becomes incapable of making their own decisions. A Power of Attorney for health care (there is also one for finance and property) appoints someone to make health care choices on the individual’s behalf when they are incapacitated.
Retire-At-Home advises that both forms of advance directives are put into place. We also advocate that these directives be reviewed with loved ones, and that copies are given to family members, doctors, and other trusted individuals, so that all may follow the document’s instructions should that time come.
Wills and Trusts
Wills identify who should receive an individual’s personal effects when they pass away. A will can prevent disagreement among family members, as well as save time and money in legal fees. Choosing to go without a will may result in your effects being distributed according to applicable law. We advise that both spouses have separate wills, and update them as their estates change.
There are several types of trusts, including living trusts, which help in the care of a dependent family member, or assist in estate and tax planning.
Power of Attorney
The legal right given to an individual to act on your behalf is called Power of Attorney. The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee has a Power of Attorney Kit that will help you appoint the person you want to make decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so for yourself. A person must have legal authority to make any financial decisions on your behalf, as well as any health care decisions.
If no Power of Attorney is appointed, a court can appoint a power of attorney after the individual becomes incapacitated.
Gathering Important Information
Because crisis is so uncertain, aging seniors should have their important legal documents organized and available at all times.
The following is a list of information that is recommended to have organized for the convenience of your loved ones:
- Birth certificate
- Social Insurance Number
- Life insurance information, including policy number
- Names and addresses of family physician and medical specialists as well as information on hospital admissions and dates of office visits and other medical history.
- Special arrangements made for health care, including advance directives
- Funeral prearrangements
- Trust documents
- Sources of income and assets
- Bank statements and safe deposit box locations
- Mortgage papers
- Investment records
- Negotiable securities
- Credit card information
- Most recent income tax return
- Loan papers
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Victoria, Oak Bay, James Bay, Colwood, North Saanich, Central Saanich, Saanich, Sydney, Langford, View Royal, Metchosin.
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Bob and Linda
Bob and Linda