Anyone faced with care-giving responsibilities should have long term care planning documents that allow them to act on behalf of the ill or incapacitated person. Without such documents family members and even spouses can be prevented from accessing or managing financial accounts. It also gives peace of mind that someone can act for you. By naming that person before you need them you avoid unnecessary delays for the decision makers and the possibility of family power struggles. In addition, having the proper documents can make long term care planning, and qualifying for public benefits such as Medicaid possible.
Long Term Care Planning Documents
Durable Power of Attorney
– Should contain special provisions that allow long term care planning by family members such as setting up a qualified income trust, contracting for services, sale of homestead, or gifting.
– Allows you to limit the authority you give the agent.
– Durable means it is effective even if you become incapacitated.
Advance Health Care Directive
(a/k/a Designation of Health Care Surrogate and/or Living Will)
– Names a “Surrogate” to make decisions for you IF you are unable to communicate your wishes.
– Can allow access to physicians and medical records.
– Can contain living will provisions that specify your thoughts regarding end of life decisions.
Last Will and Testament
– May need special needs trust provisions for an ill spouse or for a disabled child. Assets that pass via a Last Will and Testament will go through probate if titled in the deceased persons’ name alone.
-A Revocable Living Trust holds ownership to your assets with you as the trustee during your lifetime. At death it becomes irrevocable meaning your wishes must be followed with regard to the disposition of assets unless amended by the court. There is no probate for your assets as long as the trust is “funded,” meaning your assets have been retitled into the name of the trust.
"In October 2009, my fiancé (and future wife) and I wanted to have estate documents prepared. Upon the recommendation of friends, we contacted an elder law firm in Sarasota, FL. We were assigned to Teresa K. Bowman, an estate planning and elder law attorney. Over the course of several months, she helped us to develop and refine our documents to our exact specifications and requirements, with our complete satisfaction. During the next few years, various modifications to our documents were required, and she helped us to implement these changes, always with absolute professionalism and precision, and with a warm, friendly manner. Incidentally, Teresa Bowman, serving in the role of Justice of the Peace, presided over our wedding ceremony in May, 2010. It was the first wedding ceremony she had ever performed, so we trust that it is just as memorable an event for her as it was for us. In 2014, when Teresa Bowman established her own Estate Planning and Elder Law practice, we, of course, transferred our accounts to her new firm. She has since implemented additional modifications to our estate documents, with the same high level of service that we have come to expect and appreciate. We would have absolutely no reservations in recommending Teresa Bowman and her firm to anyone who has need of the services she renders." - Robert G. and Judith L. Hores