Legal Documents Every Family Caregiver Needs

As a family caregiver, you are responsible for taking care of your elderly loved one. This includes providing assistance with activities of daily living like eating, bathing, toileting, dressing, and other household chores. Family caregivers should be sure to have in place legal documents important to the lifelong care of the elder. Having access to important legal documents will help make caregiving easier for family caregivers.

The most common legal documents that every caregiver should have are:

  • A Will is one of the most important legal documents family caregivers should have. This legal document should lay out everything about what the senior wants to do with his or her property, including how and when the assets will be distributed among the heirs.
  • Advance Health Care Plan is a document that tells your doctor what health care you want. It will only be used if you get too sick to decide for yourself. The Plan says what kind of care you want and don’t want. An advance care plan helps to solve problems you can see coming.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is an important document that gives a family caregiver the right to make health care decisions. This legal document takes effect when a loved one becomes mentally incapacitated and is unable to make his/her own health care decisions. This document gives the person designated as your agent the power to make health care decisions for you. Your agent must act consistently with your desires as stated in the document.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances allows a family caregiver to manage their loved one’s finances, including access to bank accounts, properties, and other assets. This takes effect when a loved one becomes incapacitated and no longer able to pay the bills, file tax returns, manage investments and make other important financial decisions. Be sure to have this document notarized;otherwise, it will not be valid.