This Week On LawCall™ — Grandpa And The Law
As you and your loved ones get older, you may have questions about wills and trusts, nursing homes and powers of attorney. Have you set aside enough money to retire on? Would you have to sell your house to pay for long-term care? Are you prepared to leave it up to the courts to decide who will inherit your home, savings and personal possessions?
If you have questions about legal issues related to the elderly, tune in to LawCall™ this Sunday, when Tallahassee personal injury attorney Mark Nonni and his guest, Elder Law attorney Dale Davidson, will answering your questions about wills, power of attorney and other issues that affect the elderly.
The Four Legal Documents Your Parents Need
As your parents age, it becomes increasingly important that they complete and regularly update legal documents which will provide clear instructions if they should become unable to communicate. Without these documents, there’s room for family discord- and missed opportunities to honor their wishes and choices.
- LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
This document names the person responsible for settling your parents’ estate. It spells out how they wish their assets and personal property to be managed after death. Without a will, their estate is considered “intestate.” This means that state law will control who makes the decisions and how the assets of the estate are divided. Clearly written wills leave your parents in the driver’s seat, and help avoid the upheaval of family feuds after their death.
- ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE/ DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY (POA) FOR HEALTHCARE
Also known as a living will or medical directive, the Advance Health Care Directive records your parents’ wishes about what kind of medical treatments they want (or do not want) to receive if they became too incapacitated to make those decisions on their own. Reassure your parents that they may void the document and make a new one at any time, should their wishes or circumstances change.
The Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare allows your parents to choose their health care representative, also called an agent, who can make medical decisions and carry out their Advance Directive wishes for them if they become unable to make or communicate their choices.
Agents should have a copy of the document and it should be readily available to healthcare professionals.
- HIPPA/CONSENT FOR RELEASE OF INFORMATION
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects how your parents’ private medical information must be safeguarded by the medical community. This release, which every doctor’s office asks to be signed, allows your parents to give you or others (e.g. insurance companies) access to their health records and permission to discuss their care with their physicians. This form should be included in their medical chart. Your parents, or their healthcare agent, will need a separate form if they must be treated in the ER or admitted to the hospital.
- DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY (POA) FOR FINANCES
This document allows your parents to name the person they choose to manage their financial affairs if they cannot. Their POA has authority to access their bank and brokerage accounts, sell their property, deal with their insurance companies and handle any financial transactions. As long as your parents are competent, they can revoke the form. Many couples have durable POA over their finances because the document will remain valid until death. Many financial institutions require that the agreement specify what acts the POA is able to perform, for example, a POA may allow someone to withdraw from a checking account but not a savings account.
LawCall™ features Tallahassee personal injury attorneys, Vinse Barrett, Jimmy Fasig, Dana Brooks, Mark Nonni and Jaeson Homola, plus guest attorneys from across North Florida who answer your questions on a different legal topic every Sunday. This week, James Buechele fills in for anchor Frank Ranicky.