Helping your parents navigate through the process of aging provides a chance for you to give back. There are so many areas where you can help. Depending on the type of estate planning your parent has done, you may be able to help with both medical and financial management. Often if they have a trust and support documents, you can step in without the necessity of going to court.

When your parent has a will or no estate planning at all, you may have to go through a court process called a Conservatorship in order to help an aging parent. A conservatorship is a legal proceeding to appoint someone (conservator) to care for the personal needs of the incapacitated person (conservatee) and his or her assets.  However, the creation of proper estate planning documents can avoid the need for a conservatorship and the cost, time, and stress that accompany this court proceeding.

Advance Health Care Directive: In California, an Advance Health Care Directive is made up of two parts, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will. This document allows you to name an agent to make your health care decisions, as well as describe the types of treatment you do or don’t want to receive.

Financial Power of Attorney: A Financial Power of Attorney allows you to nominate an agent to handle your financial affairs. This individual will be able to manage day-to-day bills and assets that are titled in your name as an individual; your power of attorney cannot be used to manage assets titled in the name of a trust.

Living Trust: A Living Trust is a great tool commonly used to avoid Probate and distribute assets upon death, but it can also be very helpful while you’re still alive. If you are unable to or no longer want to manage your own assets your successor trustee can step in and begin handling all assets titled in the name of your trust. Additionally, some Living Trusts contain tools that will aid your successor trustee in the future if long-term care benefits planning is ever needed.

If you are in a situation where you have been named as your parent’s successor trustee and they can no longer handle their own affairs, the next step is for you to consult with an attorney to determine the best way for you to step in. If you want to talk about the ways in which you can provide help to your aging parents, contact Law Offices of Bridget Mackay today at (707) 769-9975.


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