Being a caregiver for a loved one may require more than you expect, including overseeing your loved one’s legal affairs. AARP released a recent article addressed this matter and included a legal checklist for Caregivers. Read on for the highlights.
Obtain Essential Legal Documents
Everyone should have the following key documents as a part of their secure estate plan: a Will, a Power of Attorney, and Advance Directives. We will discuss each document in greater detail, but for now, what’s most important is timing. These documents should be fashioned, signed, and witnessed while your loved one is still capable of making legal decisions on their behalf.
Get the Whole Family Involved
Strive to have everyone in the family participate in caregiving decisions whenever possible. It can be helpful to also document decisions you’ve made as a family outlining roles and responsibilities for each person so there is clear direction and agreement. Although this is not a legal document, it can help avoid disagreements and clear up misunderstandings in the future.
Organize Your Loved One’s Important Papers
In addition to the essential legal documents mentioned above, the following documents will also be helpful to have organized before you need to search for them in a crisis. Additional documents include:
- Birth and Marriage Certificates
- Divorce Decrees
- Citizenship Papers
- Death Certificate of a Spouse or Parent
- Deeds to Cemetery Plots
- Military Discharge Papers
- Insurance Policies
- Pension Benefits
Investigate Opportunities for Financial Assistance
There are numerous programs and services available to the elderly and individuals with disabilities. A few examples include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), veterans benefits, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicare, and Medicaid. Using online tools like the AARP Foundation’s Local Assistance Directory and the National Council on Aging’s Benefits Checkup you can help to determine local, state, and federal programs for which your loved one might be eligible.
Don’t forget to examine your loved one’s retirement and insurance plans to see if any of them cover in-home care, skilled nursing care, mental health services, physical therapy, and other forms of short-term assistance. Some life insurance policies even provide accelerated death payments to help pay for long-term care.
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act you may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if you need to take a leave of absence from your job to care for a loved one, something worth investigating. Furthermore, some employers offer paid family leave, and five states (New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington, and California) plus the District of Columbia have laws mandating paid leave for caregiving while several other states are on track to implement such laws by 2023.
Explore Tax Breaks and Life Insurance Deals
Lastly, look into federal tax deductions for health care expenses such as a wheelchair or hospital bed, remodeling the home to make it more accessible, and hiring a short-term or part-time home health aide to provide relief for the primary caregiver that your loved one may be eligible to receive. And don’t forget to save receipts for all medical expenses for future proof of purchase.
To learn more, you can read the full AARP article here. As always, if you have questions about planning for your future, do not hesitate to reach out to the experts at the Deliberato Law Center either by calling our office at (216) 341-3413 or writing us using the contact form on our website.
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