If you're a caregiver, part of your responsibilities may be to keep track of your loved one's legal affairs.
Here are three tips on how to protect your loved one’s legal rights.
Tip #1 - Have the right legal documents
In addition to a Last Will & Testament, make sure that your loved one has a health care power of attorney (Health Care POA) and financial power of attorney (Financial POA). These legal documents allow an appointed person to make decisions for an incapacitated loved one.
Remember that your loved one needs to create these documents when he or she is still capable of making decisions. Although it’s not necessary to hire an attorney to draft a power of attorney, it is usually best to use one.
Tip #2 - Organize important papers
Many people don't realize how many legal documents they already have. Important documents include birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees, death certificate of a spouse or parent, powers of attorney, deeds to property, insurance policies, and retirement benefits. These documents should be organized into files that are easy find.
Tip #3 - Investigate potential financial assistance
Investigate public benefits such as Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability programs, veterans benefits, Medicare, and Medicaid. The National Council on Aging offers an online tool to help determine if your loved one qualifies for various programs.
Also, examine your loved one's private disability or life insurance coverage, their pension benefits, long-term care insurance and employee health insurance policy to see whether any of them cover home health visits, skilled nursing, physical therapy or any kind of short-term assistance that could include a mental health therapist or physical therapy.
"The ultimate goal is to make sure you have all the decision-making documents you need to manage your loved one's affairs," advises Scott Swier of Swier Law Firm, Prof. LLC.