If you or a senior loved-one needs help navigating retirement or preparing for end-of-life matters, you are not alone. Although the subject may initially be uncomfortable, having a plan in place to settle your future needs and protect your estate is essential.
Additionally, you or your elder loved one’s estate probably requires more than a will. To best care for your assets, you should consider a trust, power of attorney, guardianship arrangement, advanced directive, or conservatorship. Once your affairs are in order, you can enjoy life without worrying about the future. A dedicated O’Fallon elder law lawyer could help you or a senior loved one draft the necessary documents and keep an estate plan on track.
Wills and Trusts for Elders
Wills and trusts are some of the most essential tools that senior citizens can use to protect their wishes after they pass away. A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that establishes clear direction for the destination of property after the author dies. A valid will must name beneficiaries, be in writing, feature the signatures of two witnesses, and be executed by a testator who is at least 18. Elders can use wills to transparently outline who should receive specific assets, properties, and valuable items in the future.
Meanwhile, a document known as a revocable trust can hold assets for a named beneficiary and distribute them in the future. Revocable trusts can help an elder keep assets out of the probate process. In other situations, irrevocable trusts or irrevocable Medicaid asset protection trusts could help a senior citizen protect their estate. A knowledgeable attorney in O’Fallon could help an elder resident determine which combination of trusts and wills might help them achieve their goals.
Guardianship and Conservatorship
Unfortunately, many elders and seniors reach a point where they can no longer make sound decisions or care for themselves. In these situations, arrangements known as guardianships or conservatorships can help younger family members care for their older relatives. Guardianship gives another individual the authority to assist a senior citizen with consequential tasks, such as making medical decisions, ensuring housing is safe and equipped for the senior’s needs, and monitoring friends and associates to halt fraud or coercion. Meanwhile, a conservatorship allows a loved one to make important financial decisions on a senior’s behalf.
An elder law lawyer in O’Fallon can help file a petition for the court to establish a conservatorship or guardianship. The court will first conduct a hearing to determine whether a person is incapacitated. If they are, the court will appoint a guardian and conservator and monitor them to ensure they are acting in the incapacitated elder’s best interests.
Missouri’s Medicaid program, known as MO Healthnet, provides nursing home care to eligible senior citizens. However, the program can be challenging to qualify for, as an elder law attorney knows all too well. For instance, if a senior citizen does not transfer assets correctly or their estate is too valuable, they might lose out on their eligibility for Medicaid benefits. The system can be confusing for loved ones and senior citizens to navigate, but a proactive elder attorney in O’Fallon could help use trusts or other documents to retain eligibility for Medicaid.
Other Estate Planning Documents for Elders
Finally, there are a handful of other estate planning documents that senior citizens or family members could implement to protect a valuable estate.
Financial General Durable Power of Attorney
When an elder worries they will soon no longer be able to make financial decisions on their own, they can draft a general durable power of attorney. This document names an agent who will act on the senior citizen’s behalf in the event of incapacitation. These documents can be powerful, as spouses can use them to manage the other partner’s assets in the future.
Healthcare Durable Power of Attorney
Before becoming physically or mentally incapacitated, seniors can also put a healthcare durable power of attorney in place. This document allows a named agent to make medical decisions for an elder when they cannot.
A living will, known as a physician’s directive, expresses an elder patient’s medical wishes in the event of a terminal illness or condition. These documents usually address life support, especially whether the patient wishes to be kept alive by artificial means.
If an elder needs help drafting a living will, a healthcare durable power of attorney, or a financial durable power of attorney, a compassionate lawyer in O’Fallon could be the ideal resource.
An O’Fallon Elder Law Attorney Helps Plan Your Future
If you are growing older or you need help protecting the estate of a senior loved one, you should remember that you have many estate planning tools at your disposal. Wills and trusts ensure that assets end up with the right beneficiaries, while arrangements like guardianship, conservatorship, and powers of attorney establish decision making authority in the event of incapacitation.
An O’Fallon elder law lawyer could help you or a senior relative determine which estate planning tools will best help prepare for the future. Call today to schedule your initial consultation.