Does this dilemma sound familiar? On one hand, you want to keep control of your life and make all of your financial and medical decisions yourself. On the other hand, you want to be sure the “right” person (the person you trust) is appointed to make those decisions for you, should you become frail or fall ill.
Oftentimes, seniors fear that if you delegate too much authority too early, either your thoughtful child will become overprotective and take charge before it is time, or the person you thought you could trust may end up making decisions that are really not what you would have wanted. So what should you do?
First, consult your elder law attorney. You might only need a power of attorney to allow someone to manage your finances if you are incapacitated. If you own assets as the trustee of a trust, the trust document may need to be amended to make it clear who may handle things if you can’t. If you’re thinking of putting assets into an irrevocable trust, you may want to make sure that you retain the power to remove the trustee.
Similarly, you should have a health care proxy agent who will make the decisions regarding your health. That means naming someone you trust to make the decisions that you would have made. It also means having a conversation with that person about what is important to you, about the things that make life worth living for you, and about how to decide when certain medical interventions should be rejected.
It’s your money, and it’s your life. By planning ahead, you assure that your money is spent and your life is lived on your terms.
For more information on keeping control, watch this month’s elder law virtual seminar on Frank and Mary’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/elderlawfrankandmary, and your local cable station, MVTV, along with the Frank and Mary on the Vineyard cable TV show, where my co-host, Sandie Corr-Dolby, and I address many common issues facing seniors and the resources available. If you have any questions, please contact me at 508-860-1470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arthur and Leah are elder law attorneys in the trusts and estates group at Mirick O’Connell.