We've all heard the horror stories of families fighting for guardianship in court while their loved one lies unconscious in the hospital. Or the tales of years-long probate cases that deplete assets and destroy relationships.
As a lawyer, I frequently hear these horror stories and less dramatic, but still burdensome, situations family caregivers experience that could have been avoided with a little planning. As a caregiver, I've lived it, too.
When my well-meaning mom used an online service to make a will and other legal documents, she didn't know that she'd pass away within a few years. She also didn't know that if she had spent a few hundred more dollars to meet with an attorney, it would have saved thousands and given me the authority to act on her behalf and her estate's behalf without court involvement. Her estate would not have had a claim made against it by a relative who thought she passed away with money (she didn't) and that he legally deserved some of it (he didn't). I wouldn't have had to dip into my personal finances to cover expenses like funeral costs. I could have gone back to my life much sooner instead of dealing with the court for a year to handle her final affairs. I wouldn't have had to jump through numerous legal hoops to get her will into the probate court. (Most of the time, online wills have errors or are not properly filled out and my mom's will had issues.)
Attorney's fees and stress can pile up on a caregiver, both during their loved one's lifetime and after. The time is now to explore ways that you can make it easier, less expensive and more efficient for your future caregiver and yourself.
Everyone's life circumstances and goals are different and there are countless legal tools and techniques. It is not possible for one article to give you a complete explanation of all the ways you can plan. But consider the value in doing comprehensive research and speaking with experts instead of trying to do this all yourself. There are a few things in life that are risky to DIY: electrical wiring, skydiving and legal documents. The value of a proper life care and post-life plan and savings on potential future legal fees and costs far outweigh the minimal upfront costs.