Legal and Financial Planning Considerations for Seniors

For older adults, it’s never too soon to start preparing for the future, even if you are perfectly healthy. Before an illness or injury creates added stress and urgency to legal and financial planning, you and your family should consider how you would like their property, finances and their own health cared for should anything happen to you in the future.

“Seniors who plan ahead have a big advantage when it comes to security and choice,” says Diane Reier, Lifestyle Specialist at Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights, a senior living community in Prospect Heights, IL. “By making plans when you’re healthy, you have more time to consider your options. Plus, both you and your family can enjoy the peace of mind knowing that everything is already taken care of, in case of a future crisis. Having your affairs in order can eliminate worry and give your family a sense of relief.

Protecting your assets and making plans for how you’d like to be cared for in case of an emergency is a good way for seniors to be proactive in their retirement. Investing time and resources in planning now makes for a peaceful, confident future.”

Options for Protecting Your Assets and Well-Being

Although we would like to think that we’ll always be able to take care of ourselves, we never know what each day will bring. Legal and financial plans offer seniors and their loved ones security and peace of mind from knowing that whatever the future holds has already been taken care of.

There are many options when it comes to protecting your assets and well-being. The article “The Guide to Legal Planning for Seniors: Start Early, Avoid Crisis” from The Aging Experience describes a few of the most common legal plans used by older adults. Below are some to consider:

  • Living Wills – A living will, also known as an advanced directive, is a written document that states how you would like to be cared for if you become terminally ill, incapacitated or cannot communicate your health care wishes.

    A living will ensures that you receive the health care and treatments that you prefer, even if you are unable to communicate. Living wills can also include end-of-life preferences. To ensure that the wishes stated in a living will are carried out by healthcare providers, you can name a trusted loved one as your Power of Attorney to make sure your wishes are respected.

  • Durable Power of Attorney – Naming someone your Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) gives that person the legal power to manage and make decisions about your care and finances should you become unable to yourself. A DPOA is usually a spouse or trusted family member who understands your wishes and will make decisions that are in your best interest.

    While a DPOA is responsible for making decisions on your behalf, they cannot override your decisions if you are still capable of making them. Choosing a DPOA should be handled carefully, as he or she may be responsible for making life-altering decisions. Communication with a DPOA is vital in order to ensure they understand your preferences and concerns regarding the management of your health care and assets. 

  • Living Trusts – Similar to a last will, a living trust allows you to pass on property after death. In order to do this, you must transfer the ownership and control of your assets to the trust during your lifetime. A trustee (either yourself, a chosen loved one or bank) manages the assets put into the trust according to your directions. After death, your trusted assets are given to the beneficiaries you chose when creating the trust.

    There are pros and cons to living trusts. In comparison to a last will, living trusts usually don’t require the costly and time-consuming court processes that wills do. Another benefit to a living trust is that your trustee will have the legal ability to handle your property if you are ever become incompetent due to health issues.

On the other hand, living trust cost more legal fees than last wills. They are also complex and vary based on type, so trusts require more research and understanding on your part. An attorney and accountant can help you decide on the best kind of trust for your situation.

We always recommend that you consult with a professional when doing legal and financial planning.

Planning for A Loved One with Dementia

While planning ahead is important for every senior, it is especially important for someone diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Since a loved one with Alzheimer’s will eventually lose the capacity to fully understand their circumstances, necessary legal decisions will need to be made by a family member in the final stages of the disease.

If your loved one has dementia, it’s important to begin making plans with them as soon as they are diagnosed. This way, they will have the most opportunities to take part in the planning and make decisions for themselves.

Even if your loved one still has the capacity to make decisions, their disease may make them unable to complete all legal and financial planning themselves. As you assist your loved one, be as comprehensive as you can with regards to their assets and existing legal documents. Your loved one may no longer remember having completed a living will or power of attorney document. The Alzheimer’s Association® has advice for helping a loved one with legal planning on their website.

Make Plans Today. Rest Assured Tomorrow.

“We can never know what tomorrow will bring,” says Reier, “but we can make sure we’re prepared. We encourage you and your family to start researching your options for financial and legal plans today. Investing the time and energy now will be well worth it when you realize you no longer need to worry!”

If you would like more information on making legal or financial plans for your future or an aging loved one’s, call Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights today. Our senior living experts can point you in the right direction for valuable resources and information.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also welcome you to read our recent blog articles on current caregiver and memory care topics.  

Live Well. Age Well. Be Well.

Offering Independent, Assisted Living and A Knew Day Memory Support, Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights is a distinctive senior living community designed to offer seniors residing in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs area a fresh alternative to “typical” senior living communities.

Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights provides residents with the ideal balance of personalized support, dignified privacy and enhanced independence complemented by luxurious amenities and our life-enriching, award-winning VIVA!SM programming by Pathway to Living®.

Managed by Pathway to Living®, an innovator in senior living, Aspired Living® offers the choice of a private studio or a one- or two-bedroom apartment and the beauty of a brand new community, stunningly appointed and decorated for unsurpassed comfort and style by the award-winning senior living design firm, Thoma-Holec Design, Inc.

For more information, please call Diane or Janette, Lifestyle Specialists, at 847-243-6920.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.