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Archive for December, 2013

(The Parent Trap, Part 7: Signing over the “Power” 12.19.2013

While there are at least four “must have” estate planning documents for you and your parents to consider, today we’re going to discuss Powers of Attorney. There are two basic categories of Powers of Attorney:

Financial Power of Attorney: this creates a financial power of attorney that allows your selected Attorney-in-Fact to make financial decisions for you.

Health Care Power of Attorney : this creates a health care power of attorney that allows your selected Health Care Agent to make medical decisions for you.

Both the Financial and Health Care Powers of Attorney can become effective immediately (at the time of execution) or upon a future event such as incompetency or mental incapacity.

Both types of Power of Attorney can also be limited in duration so that they terminate at a specific time or upon a specific occurrence, or they can be lasting so that once they take effect, they remain effective until death. The Powers of Attorney will terminate upon the death of the principle.

Powers of Attorney will confer upon the Attorney-in-Fact (or Agent) the right to make decisions in the same manner the principle would make them. The decision-making power can be specific (e.g. the right to sell a certain vehicle or look into certain medical records), or it can be general (e.g. the right to make any/all financial decisions or health care decisions).

There are several benefits to drafting current Powers of Attorney while your parent is still mentally capable. First, drafting the documents prior to incapacity will prevent the need to involve the court system (and associated costs!) in granting the right to act on behalf of your parent. Also, earlier drafting enables your parent to choose the specific person(s) they want to act as their Power of Attorney, and prevents potential conflict between those that might want to have the power to act, if there are competing interests. Finally, planning ahead brings peace of mind to all parties. There’s a great amount of comfort to be derived from knowing that affairs are in order.

One last note: Powers of Attorney can be drafted to allow for co-Attorneys-in-Fact/Agents. If your parent is thinking of having co-Attorneys-in-Fact/Agents, have them first determine if they want their co-Attorneys-in-Fact/Agents to have the power to act jointly (the decisions they make must be signed off by all Agents) or the power to act separately (any Agent has the power to make decisions without the signature of the other). Naming co-Attorneys-in-Fact/Agents can sometimes be cumbersome, but if your parents have multiple trustworthy and capable people in their lives to act on their behalf, utilizing co-Attorneys-in-Fact/Agents can spread the decision-making process so that one person doesn’t carry that burden alone.

If your parent doesn’t have an updated Financial or Health Care Power of Attorney in place, now is the time to act!

Coming next week: The Parent Trap, Part 8: Will vs. Trust . . . spending now or later?

The Parent Trap, Part 6: The Senior Prom 12.12.2013

Perhaps your aging parent has already dealt with the loss of their spouse. They’ve already been through the grieving period and have now been able to move on in a healthy way. And maybe now they’re at the point where they are considering giving their heart to someone else. What do you do with this situation?

This issue may catch you off guard. But it is really not uncommon for elderly folks who have lost their life partner to eventually seek companionship in another. Realistically, it’s a natural response. After all, decades of living with a mate have taught them to love companionship. Being stripped of that after all that time will cause them to miss it, to crave it, and possibly even to seek it out once more.

Even if the prospect of your parent entering the dating world seems awkward or out of place to you, take comfort in the fact that being fifty or older actually has its benefits when it comes to dating. In fact, you can be less concerned about your parent dating than your teenager. The main thing that the older generation has going for them is experience – life experience. If you are in your fifties or older, it means that you’ve lived a lot of life and you know who you are and what you want. You can put yourself out there with confidence and know exactly what you’re looking for in a partner.

The advantageousness of your parent entering the dating world will depend on them and their situation. But other than personal circumstances that may not be conducive to them seeking new companionship, there are really no obvious downsides to this pursuit. On the contrary, there are many benefits that come with this type of partnering. Studies show that elderly folks that have frequent social interaction are happier. In fact love can stimulate better brain function and more positive emotions. Being “in love” with someone just may give your parent a brighter outlook on life. On a more practical side, having a partner may make life easier in day to day living. Perhaps your parent is independent enough to live in their own home, but needs another set of hands to make practical tasks easier. Or maybe they need someone around to remind them of appointments and keep them up-to-date on their medicine. A new partner would be the perfect person to help in these areas.

Now, be aware that if your parent is looking to start dating again, social media may play a part in this. The popularity of online dating sites for seniors is on the rise. There are even certain dating websites that are being created specifically for the fifty-and-over age group. These sites allow for people to peruse different profiles easily and find exactly what they’re looking for with little effort. It’s an easy to use and convenient tool for dating, so don’t be surprised if you find out that your parent has created an online profile.

In conclusion, these are some things to be aware of in the event that your parent is looking to enter a new romantic relationship after their spouse is gone. It’s one area of their lives that can be left entirely up to them as they advance in age. As their kids, you shouldn’t try to push them into it if they’re not ready. And some may never be ready; it’s not a path for everyone. On the flip side, don’t be too quick to shut it down if you see them heading in this direction. In all likelihood, having a boyfriend or girlfriend or even a new spouse will be a positive thing in their lives. No one likes to be alone. Why should your parent have to be?

Coming next week: The Parent Trap, Part 7: Signing over “the Power”