There are several reasons why adequate legal planning is crucial, but one that I’ll focus on today is that too often, seniors are victims of financial abuse. Unfortunately, people become more vulnerable with age and many families fail to address the necessary preparations until it is too late. This results in sticky legal situations for family caregivers. Below are a few common legal troubles caregivers may face.
Issues with Power of Attorney
Designating someone to act as your surrogate decision maker through a Power of Attorney (POA) document, especially for financial matters, is a crucial part of planning for the future. However, this useful tool can pose some issues among family members and with other entities including banks.
When an aging loved one hasn’t named a power of attorney before becoming incompetent or the person they chose has been accused of mishandling their affairs, lengthy and expensive guardianship proceedings are usually necessary to appoint a trustworthy person to take over this responsibility.
There are many kinds of abuse that seniors can fall victim to at the hands of strangers and even more often family members or “friends”. While those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are considered the most vulnerable, cognitively sound individuals are also prone to being defrauded and scammed.
When Caregivers Need Legal Protection
Whether it is due to dementia or out of spite, elderly loved ones and even other family members sometimes accuse primary caregivers of abuse. Even if their claims are unfounded, the accused usually winds up in a heap of legal trouble.
Estate Administration Issues
Administering a decedent’s estate involves collecting and managing their assets, paying debts and distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries. A will is a legal document that spells out one’s wishes for their estate after they’ve passed away, but many people either do not write a will or fail to update it regularly or make it accessible to family members who need it. While wills are supposed to simplify this process, they can be divisive legal documents for many families and all wills require the expense and delay of a probate process. Other legal options exist which may be far superior to a will.
If you are experiencing legal issues associated with caregiving, long-term care, elder abuse or estate planning, you are not alone. If you have any concerns or questions regarding legal issues that caregivers face, you can contact me. We, as Elder Law Attorneys are always there to assist you. You can give me a call at (262)812-6262 to arrange a complimentary meeting.
Written by: Ryan Zenk, Elder Law Center of Wisconsin
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