Throughout our lives we may look to our moms as caregivers and support systems, someone we can turn to even when we ourselves are adults. But who takes care of mom when she can no longer care for herself?
Making sure we and our loved ones have a plan in place before something happens is critical. That way the people who are going to step in on mom’s behalf are already named and can more easily transition into control. Also, any directives are set out in advance. This helps avoid time-consuming court processes and eliminate stressful guesswork.
A comprehensive plan should ensure mom is in control and cared for throughout her life, and it should cover more than just inheritances. Some elements that can go into a comprehensive plan include:
- A Living Trust that places mom in control over her assets while she is alive and well. It also names who she would like to step into place when she needs help, and who would administer the estate when after she passes away. Additionally, it states who is inheriting and in which way. Protections can be put in place against creditors, in the event of divorce, for spendthrift children, for beneficiaries who have special needs and other various scenarios. Your trust should be personalized to you and your loved ones’ needs for it to work in the way you would like and have the most safeguards in place.
- A Will and Testament to name who is going to act as your Personal Representative and ensure if something is not covered by the Trust that it goes to the correct beneficiaries.
- Guardianship decisions if applicable. Having mom name someone she trusts to take care of any minor children is essential. That way she does not have to worry about whether they will be cared for, and she can include instructions or guidance on the manner she would have cared for them in.
- A Financial Power of Attorney that names an agent to take care of mom’s financial and legal matters if she were to become disabled and not be able to handle them herself. Naming an agent in advance means the family does not have to go through the costly, potentially drawn-out probate court process to be named a guardian or conservator, saving valuable time.
- A Healthcare Power of Attorney with HIPAA Authorizations that name a health care representative to make health care decisions for mom when she is unable to make them herself. Our office also includes Advanced Directives with the healthcare documents. These provide guidance to your representatives about the kinds of care mom may like to receive under various circumstances. They include instructions on resuscitation, artificial nutrition, mechanical breathing, invasive tests, and medications to manage pain, among other decisions. Sharing these wishes helps ensure mom is cared for in the way she would like when someone else steps in.
- Funding and Beneficiary Designation decisions to make administering mom’s estate easier. Knowing in advance what accounts mom has can prevent time and frustration down the road. This way the family does not have to go on a scavenger hunt through paperwork to figure out if she still has a life insurance policy with a certain company or what banking/investment accounts. Also, knowing if any tangible item like a wedding ring or family heirloom is supposed to go to a particular person can save the family from stressful fights.
A comprehensive estate plan can also help mom pass on more than wealth to her loved ones. With legacy planning, mom can leave messages to her family. These can include her wisdom, life lessons learned from her own experiences, stories she has never told her loved ones before, and reflections on life in general. Leaving these personalized messages can create a deeper connection between mom and her loved ones even after she is gone, can add greater meaning to what is left behind, can help serve as guidance to loved ones, and can instill gratitude and values through the memories.
To discuss planning for yourself or to find out more about the protections mom can put in place and guidance she could leave behind, we offer complimentary initial consultations. Contact us at (248) 409-0256 for scheduling.