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Legal Checklist for Caregivers: 6 Ways to Protect Your Aging Loved One and Yourself

Your 1+1 Team
June 25, 2022

If you have been a caregiver before, you know taking care of your loved one is more than just walking them in and out of the bathroom. To protect your aging parents you need a Legal Checklist for Caregivers. As they age and lose their independence, you have to consider how to protect them both in their day-to-day activities and in legal matters. Handling aging parents’ legal affairs may seem overwhelming, but knowing the steps to take can help you protect your elderly parent’s rights and your own. AARP provided the following checklist to help you take care of their legal matters.

Legal Checklist for Caregivers to Protect and Care for Aging Adults

1. Have the right documents

Your loved one should have a durable power of attorney (POA) for both health care and financial affairs. These legal documents give an appointed person permission to make legal decisions on the behalf of a debilitated relative.

Your elderly family member should take care of these documents before they lose their capability to make decisions. It’s advised to have an attorney for a financial POA as money issues can get complex. However, you are not required to have a lawyer for a healthcare POA but may need two witnesses depending on your state.

Your loved one should also consider drafting a living will. This document goes alongside the healthcare POA as part of an advance directive. The living will allows your loved one to legally address their wishes for care.

2. Make a family plan

The biggest forerunner of legal problems is bad communication, so it is important to discuss with all family members each of their roles in the caregiving process and write them down. This isn’t considered a legal document, however, it could prevent potential misunderstandings from turning into legal problems.

3. Organize important papers

There is an overwhelming amount of legal documents under an older individual’s name, it can be hard not to miss one. Organize your loved one’s important papers and you will thank yourself later when they may need one for a future matter. Important documents include:

  • citizenship papers
  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate
  • power(s) of attorney
  • divorce decree
  • death certificate of a spouse or parent
  • deeds to property
  • deeds to cemetery plots
  • pension benefits
  • military discharge papers
  • insurance policies

4. Explore potential financial help

You can aid them in their financial affairs by looking into their savings as well as their social security benefits. Your loved one may qualify for benefits such as the housing choice voucher program, tax credit for the elderly and disabled, USDA housing repair program, Medicaid, and food assistance programs. You also should make sure their insurance policies are up to date since this will help protect them from any potential risk they may face in retirement. These include automobile, homeowner’s, life, and long-term disability. Check if their insurance covers short-term assistance as well such as home health visits and physical therapy.

You also should explore the Family and Medical Act. As a caretaker, you may be eligible to take a leave of absence for up to 12 weeks.

5. Look for tax breaks and life insurance deals

Save receipts for medical expenses because your relative may be able to claim federal tax deductions for a variety of health care expenses. They could potentially have tax deductions on a hospital bed or wheelchair, home modifications for accessibility, a temporary home health aide to provide respite for the main caregiver, and out-of-pocket costs not covered by health insurance.

6. Think beyond your loved one

If your loved one may have children, pets, or a spouse who also can’t take care of themselves independently. Make sure their needs are legally met and they receive any available benefit.

For example, their surviving spouse should be the beneficiary for your elderly relative’s life insurance policy, IRA, bank account, and pension benefits.

With the multitude of responsibilities you may have as a caregiver, you will feel a great wave of relief knowing that your loved one’s legal affairs are in order. 1+1 Cares provides more steps you can take to care for success.

1+1 Cares is a referral agency that works for clients and caregivers. We match caregivers with clients and inform them of your requirements. We work for you so you and your loved one can have a safe, enjoyable caregiving experience.

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