caring for elderly parent

Power of Attorney and Personal Directive for Seniors

Why are Power of Attorney and Personal Directive so Important for Seniors?

Bring up talk about legal documents and many people’s eyes begin to glaze over, especially if you’re a family caregiver. After all, you have enough to do caring for your senior loved one without worrying about complicated legal issues and paperwork, right? However, two legal documents can potentially be important in the life of family caregivers and the seniors for whom they care: Personal Directive and Power of Attorney.

Generally, a Power of Attorney “POA” is a legal document that gives an individual the power to act on another person’s behalf. In other words, having this document in place could give the older adult in your life the confidence in knowing that choices about their financial life would not be left in the hands of a stranger if they no longer could make decisions for themselves. A POA allows adults over the age of 18 to designate another adult to manage their financial affairs if, because of health issues, they couldn’t.

More specifically, an enduring POA is one that can stay in effect even when the individual can no longer make decisions on their own or loses capacity because of a physical, mental, or cognitive condition.

So why go through the hassle of putting these legal documents in place? Not doing so can creates a risk. For instance, if something happens to your loved one who does not have an enduring power of attorney, you may have to go to court to get the authority to handle that person’s financial affairs and that can take weeks to months.

  • POAs have the ability to give seniors who have them in place greater control over their lives. For example, if you were your mother’s POA and she could no longer handle her business affairs, you would have the authority to pay bills, manage her daily business dealings, manage property, file taxes and apply for public benefits such as CPP or GIS.

A Personal Directive is a “medical” power of attorney legal document.  In general, a Personal Directive makes one individual a healthcare Agent for another. Depending on the situation, this can allow the Agent to do, for example, the following:

  • Direct the medical care that someone needs. For instance, if your father was ill or needed surgery and you were his healthcare Agent, you could work with medical professionals to determine the type of care he receives, the doctors and care providers who treat him, and even where he lives while he recovers.

There are certain things POAs cannot do:

  • Change someone’s will
  • Make decisions after their death (unless, for example, the POA is also the executor of the will)
  • Change or transfer POA to someone else

Remember, it’s important for you to obtain such documents as well. All adults 18 and over need these documents to help ensure their wishes are carried out if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.  A terrific graduation present for those young adults in your life.

Posted by Admin-FCI in Seniors Health and Wellness, 0 comments

The Challenge of Aging Alone

Aging alone is a challenge many people face. You may be one of them. Most pre-retirees and retirees know that, as they age, there is a single solid support system they can absolutely count on: their adult children. But what happens when they don’t exist?  What happens if they are too busy or unreliable?  What happens if they are prone to helping themselves to your finances?

A solitary old age is, for many, a threatening prospect, something to be contemplated with a mixture of apprehension and outright fear. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there are strategies which can be adopted to minimize the impact of a solitary old age. You need a multi-faceted “Go it Alone” plan.

The 2011 Census of Population counted nearly 5 million (4,945,000) seniors aged 65 and over in Canada. Of these individuals, 92.1% lived in private households or dwellings (as part of couples, alone or with others) while 7.9% lived in collective dwellings, such as residences for senior citizens or health care and related facilities.

Most people aged 65 and over lived in a couple with either a married spouse or a common-law partner during their early senior years.

2011 Census data showed that about one-quarter (24.6%) of the population aged 65 and over lived alone.  The share of the population that lived alone was fairly low and stable until about the age of 50 for women, and until approximately age 70 for men.  After these ages, the prevalence of living alone increased for both sexes, but more sharply for women.

Older single and childless people are at higher risk than those with children for facing medical problems, cognitive decline and premature death.

Suggestions:

  1. Establish a “virtual board of directors” – a network of friends, financial advisor, daily money manager, lawyer, accountant or other professionals you work with. They can assist you with care and decisions.  Also develop a plan of action if cognitive changes occur.
  2. Expand your social network – for those aging solo, expanding a social network is essential, according to experts on aging. Isolation contributes to depression, cognitive decline and a decline in overall health.

 

Posted by Admin-FCI in Seniors Health and Wellness, 0 comments

Proactive Seniors Article

Christmas is a great time to have a check-in to see how seniors and their children are each managing.  This is a conversation that should go in both directions, with consideration of everyone’s input and feelings.

Adult children can inquire about how their parent(s) are managing in their home or retirement community. Are they eating well and getting regular social contact?  Do they need any help taking care of the house, getting to appointments, managing their medications or with personal care such as bathing, dressing, cooking?  Is one parent the primary caregiver for the other? If so, how are they managing?

Conversely, seniors can inquire about how their adult children are managing. If the ‘kids’ are helping with any caregiving tasks, are they managing with those tasks?  Are they balancing their work, family and other commitments?  Do the adult children know who the parents power of attorney and personal directive agent are and where to find the will?  Are the adult children comfortable that they know their parents wishes regarding medical intervention or housing choices. Relationships are best preserved by making sure everyone is comfortable in their roles.

It is common for both spousal caregivers and adult children caregivers to under-recognize how challenging being a caregiver can be.  Providing regular support with meals, groceries, laundry, transportation to appointments, personal care and financial or household management can start to negatively impact one’s own health and wellness.  If the caregiver is feeling overwhelmed then it is important to seek help.  It might be time to bring outside support into the home and/or discuss options for care in an alternate location such as a retirement community.

Keeping the lines of communication open helps families to be proactive in making plans for the future and ensuring everyone stays healthy and happy.

An article from Proactive Seniors December newsletter – By Kathy Mendham

Posted by Admin-FCI in Seniors Health and Wellness, 0 comments
How to Choose an Executor: 5 Tips to Help Seniors with Estate Planning

How to Choose an Executor: 5 Tips to Help Seniors with Estate Planning

Choosing the right executor is essential for your senior’s estate planning.

An essential part of estate planning or creating a will for you or a senior in your life is to choose an executor – someone who will execute (carry out) their wishes after they pass away. Making an informed decision on who will fulfill that role will help them feel confident that their wishes will be fulfilled and family conflict will be minimized.

What does an executor do?

In Alberta, the correct legal term for an executor is “Personal Representative.”  We use the word “executor” because it is generally the term people are most familiar with.  An executor is responsible for making sure a person’s last wishes regarding their property and possessions are carried out. They are responsible for making sure that any debts and creditors are paid and that the remaining money and property are distributed as the senior in your life wish.

An executor doesn’t need to be a lawyer or financial professional, but the law requires them to fulfill their duties with honesty and diligence and in good faith – it’s called doing their fiduciary duty.

An executor is entitled to compensation from the estate for their time.  This fee is typically outlined in the will. If not, the acceptable range is 3 – 5% of the estate value.

Learn more about Financial Concierge’s Estate Administration services.

5 Tips to Help Seniors with Estate Planning

1. Choose someone with a good head on their shoulders

The person your senior chooses as their executor doesn’t have to be a financial whiz, but they should have basic knowledge of how to manage finances. Also, it’s better if they tend to be conservative when it comes to managing money. They should also be comfortable with researching and asking for help from experts, as there will probably be duties that they won’t be familiar with.

2. Make sure the executor will be there to do the job and have backups in case they can’t

It’s critical that the executor is present and capable of administering the estate. If the person is in poor health or is the same age as the senior or older, they might not be alive or healthy enough when it comes time to administer the estate. That’s why it’s often better to choose someone younger than the senior to fill that role. Of course, life is unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to name a backup executor, called a successor.

The successor will take over if the first choice executor is unable to do the job. Your senior can name the successors, or they can opt to let their top choice executor name a successor. They can also choose a third party, like a business that provides this service, as executor.

A good rule of thumb is to choose an executor, one or more backups (named in order of succession), and have a third party executor as the final backup.

3. Understand the pros and cons of third-party executors

It’s essential to understand the trade-offs when naming a bank or financial service company as executor. First, a third-party can only fulfill their duties if their business is still around – so the company has to outlive the senior. Second, the fees you’ll need to pay them to execute the will or estate will typically be more than what you would pay an individual. Third, a bank or trust company executor will be impersonal in how they handle the administration of the estate. There will probably be different people involved over time, and there may be inflexible policies they must follow to protect their company from liability.

You may wish to consider Financial Concierge Inc. as our fees are lower, our services are personal and we work with you, in-home whenever possible. Interested in partnering with Financial Concierge for your, or a senior’s in your life, estate administration? Contact us!

4. Being named executor is not an honour – it is a huge task and responsibility

Some estates have a lot of assets and/or take a long time to administer. In this case, your senior may want to choose two (or more) people to act as co-executors. The reason being, if there are tough decisions to make or a lot of work to be done, it won’t all be left to one person. However, having more than one person in charge can lead to conflict.

For example, if children are all named equally as co-executors, it can cause tension or fights. Even if all the children are currently in agreement about how the assets are divided, issues can come up when it’s time to administer the estate. Your senior would be better off trying to prevent family conflict rather than “being fair” to their children. If there’s a lot of potential for conflict, a third-party executor may be the best option.

5. Review choices regularly and make changes as needed

Things can change over time. Your senior’s top choice for an executor today could be an unwise choice two years from now. It’s good for them to review their decisions regularly, especially in times where there’s a significant life change.

Significant life changes include, a divorce in the family, someone becomes estranged, or family members reconcile, etc. In the case of a blended family or second marriage, a third-party executor is often a good choice because they are neutral and unbiased.

Need help with your own or your elderly family members Estate Administration? 

Get in touch with us today to book your complimentary initial consultation.

 

Posted by Admin-FCI in Money Management, 0 comments