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Necessary Legal Documents for Seniors and Their Loved Ones

Let’s face it, getting old isn’t easy and having conversations about the aging process can be difficult. It is often more comfortable to have conversations about your parents’ wishes about their end of life care early, when there is no urgency. Here are legal documents every senior and their families should know about:

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows a family caregiver to act in the event their loved one becomes incompetent. The document allows the caregiver to manage medical, financial, and other decisions. It should not be confused with the power of attorney, which only lets the caregiver act in extremely
limited circumstances.

Conservatorship

If the senior is already incompetent, the family caregiver may have to go to court to be appointed as the loved one’s conservator. Conservatorship allows the caregiver to act in the senior’s best interest. However, the family caregiver needs to be aware of the documents he or she must keep since each decision must ultimately be approved by the court.

Living Will (Advanced Directive)

A Living Will, also called Advance Directives, are legal documents that allow you to convey your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time. There are four types of advance directives recognized in the State of Texas. They provide a way for you to communicate your wishes to family, friends and health care professionals, and to avoid confusion later on.

Will

A written will allows seniors to decide how their assets will be divided once they’re gone. This document also allows you to appoint a person as an executor to overlook the dissolution of assets in accordance with the will.

Many of these forms referenced above are available free online and there are Do It Yourself kits and online services that can assist in preparing a will. However, it is best to consult an attorney if budget permits.