Steps to Take When Your Parent’s Health is Failing

From the legal perspective, what needs to be done when your father or mother’s health is failing? Three things! First, you need to get your parent to sign a “general, durable Power of Attorney.” Second, you need them to sign an Advance Health Care Directive. Third, you need to make sure that they have completely (and correctly) transferred all of their significant accounts and assets into their living trust. Also, if your parents are well-to-do, there is fourth thing: You need to make sure that your parents have fully implemented their estate tax-savings strategy.

Don’t put this off. The Power of Attorney allows you to pay your parent’s bills, manage accounts, and take care of their property (like paying rent, hiring a gardener, or getting an apartment cleaned). The Advance Health Care Directive allows you to make medical decisions for your mother or father, like what kind of medical procedures, what hospital, or what end-of-life measures they do or don’t want.

It can be very helpful to have a joint checking account with your parent. A shared account makes it even easier to write checks for your parent’s benefit.

Don’t wait until your parent is too sick to sign the necessary documents or open a joint account because then you’ll have to go to court and get a conservator appointed – which is very expensive, public, time-consuming, and sometimes contentious.

About Paul D. Hunt

If you're a resident of California, and a homeowner, then you should clearly put your home into a living trust. A living trust makes probate unnecessary. (We don't like to say "avoiding probate," because that's misleading!) Probate is very expensive – an average home in Alameda will require a probate fee of about $37,000. Also, probate is very slow, and it's done in public. Our law office is dedicated to getting rid of all of the estate planning myths out there, like the "avoiding probate" myth. We want every family in Alameda to enjoy the many benefits of a trouble-free estate. Come to one of our seminars, or call for a free initial appointment at (510) 523- 2100.
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