If you or a loved one are approaching the point of needing elder care, you may be wondering what your options are. What level of care is right for your situation? How will you pay for care? What will happen when you need a more intensive level of care? Here we discuss some of the most important estate planning factors for elders and their caregivers.
Estate Planning Basics
There are five elements to address in an estate plan:
- A living will and healthcare power of attorney (POA)
- A last will and testament
- A trust (if necessary)
- A financial power of attorney
- A list of beneficiaries
These five factors can ensure that your health-related, financial-related, and asset-related wishes are carried out, even if you're temporarily or permanently incapacitated.
Living Will and Healthcare POA
A healthcare Power of Attorney allows a designated person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you're incapacitated, whether you're undergoing emergency surgery or suffering from dementia. A living will sets out your end-of-life wishes, whether you want all possible lifesaving measures or have a do not resuscitate (DNR) order.
Some questions to ask yourself when drafting a living will include:
- What kind of medications would you like administered? (E.g. opioids, narcotics, blood pressure medications, etc.)
- If you're unable to eat, do you want a feeding tube?
- Do you want to be on life support? If so, how long?
- Do you want a DNR order?
- Would you like to donate your organs?
- Do you want palliative or hospice care?
Although these aren't necessarily pleasant questions to think about, they can help keep your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions during an incredibly difficult time.
Last Will and Testament
Your will allows the transfer of assets that make up your estate to your beneficiaries—children, grandchildren, spouses, siblings, or anyone else you'd like to leave assets after your death. It should include:
- A list of your beneficiaries
- A list of your major assets (bank accounts, properties, art, vehicles, and any other physical assets)
- A list of any debts
- A person you'd like to be appointed as the executor of your estate
A financial POA grants someone else the same level of control over your finances as a healthcare POA does over your physical health and medical treatment. A financial POA kicks in only when you're not able to make financial decisions for yourself, whether temporarily or permanently. Your financial POA should be someone you trust to carry out your wishes. When you select a POA, it should be someone who is willing and capable of serving in this role, who lives near you, and who is trustworthy.
Your designated beneficiaries should include everyone you'd like to provide for after you pass away. Some of the most common beneficiaries include:
- Your spouse
- Your children and/or stepchildren
- Your grandchildren
- Nieces and nephews
- Close friends
Over time, you may find that your desired beneficiaries shift; it's worth revisiting your designated beneficiaries periodically to make sure they still reflect your wishes.
Content in this material is for educational and general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.
LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.
This article was prepared by WriterAccess.
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