What Kind of Legal Documents Do I Need to Manage My Parents’ Affairs?

What Kind of Legal Documents Do I Need to Manage My Parents’ Affairs

All too often, adult children find themselves in the position of having to care for their aging parents, who may no longer be able to make decisions about medical treatment, financial issues, and even household matters. In order to act on your parents’ behalf, however, you will need to obtain the legal documents that will allow you to do so. The type of legal documents that you need will depend on your specific situation and your parents’ needs.

For instance, in cases of temporary incapacity or illness, an aging parent may grant an adult child or another trusted individual the right to make certain decisions on his or her behalf through a power of attorney. For example, a power of attorney may allow an adult child to handle his mother’s financial affairs. An experienced Michigan estate planning lawyer can customize a power of attorney to meet all of your family’s specific needs, which can be temporary in nature or last longer, if needed. A power of attorney also can assist with health care decisions. In the event of incapacity, the parent can authorize an adult child to make medical decisions on his or her behalf.

On the other hand, if a parent has become permanently incapacitated and unable to handle his or her affairs, it may be necessary for a court to appoint a guardian and/or a conservator for him or her. A guardianship allows an adult child to make decisions related to the parent’s care, such as residency and medical care. A conservatorship allows an adult child to handle an elderly parent’s financial affairs. One adult child may be able to act as both guardian and conservator, or different individuals can fill the different roles. The most important distinction between a guardianship, conservatorship, and a power of attorney is that whereas a guardianship or conservatorship takes away an individual’s rights by court order, a power of attorney allows an individual to voluntarily relinquish his or her rights in some respects.

As your parents age, you may become increasingly aware of their need for assistance with their legal and financial affairs. Depending on the nature of their needs, there are likely to be measures that you can take prospectively in order to protect and preserve their financial situation. Since a situation like this can occur quickly and unexpectedly, you need an attorney who can provide you the help necessary to get through it. At Legacy Law Center, our Ann Arbor elder law attorneys can help you through any situations that may arise as you care for your aging parents.