Elder Law Legal Documents
Contact a Charlotte Elder Law Attorney For Help
Most people prefer to make their own decisions. But what happens if, due
to illness or injury, you are temporarily or permanently unable to make
decisions for yourself? Empower yourself and take charge by having the
appropriate legal documents drafted that dictate what instructions you
want followed and who will be authorized to make medical, legal, and financial
decisions on your behalf. At Kelli Y Allen Elder Law, our Charlotte
elder law lawyer can assist you with the creation and execution of:
A trust is a written document that prescribes how assets contained within
the trust are to be managed and distributed. They are often used as an
estate planning tool to avoid probate, or as a means of
Medicaid asset protection.
A revocable trust is one that the grantor (person who starts the trust)
can discontinue during his or her lifetime. The grantor can freely add
or remove assets, take distributions, or make changes. In North Carolina,
property that is held in a revocable trust is not required to go through
probate. Rather, the property passes as dictated in the trust document.
An irrevocable trust is one in which the grantor (person who starts the
trust) cannot access the assets once they are placed into the trust. The
grantor can determine who will manage the trust and who will have access
to trust assets during his lifetime, and also, how the property will be
distributed at the grantor’s death. Irrevocable trusts are a valuable
tool for Medicaid planning, as property contained in a properly-drafted
irrevocable trust is not countable or assessable by Medicaid.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else
the authority to act on your behalf. Without this document, if you become
incapacitated, no one will be able to perform tasks such as paying bills,
applying for Medicaid or signing contracts without first getting court approval.
You have the choice of having this document take effect immediately upon
signing, or only upon your incapacity. Appointing a durable power of attorney
does not take away your ability to make decisions, it merely empowers
another person to act on your behalf.
You have the option of limiting the acts your designee is authorized to
take on your behalf, or you may give a broad power of attorney that will
allow him or her to handle all your financial and legal affairs. You may
choose to revoke or modify your power of attorney at any time.
Health Care Power of Attorney
While a durable power of attorney allows your designated representative
to handle legal and financial matters, it does not automatically allow
that person to make medical decisions on your behalf. For that, you need
a health care power of attorney. The person you designate as your health
care power of attorney will make all decisions regarding your medical
care if you are unable to do so. In that situation, your doctor would
take all instructions from this designated individual. If you have specific
wishes regarding medical care, it is advisable to also have a living will.
Your health care agent is strictly bound to follow those instructions
when making medical decisions on your behalf.
Many families face the agonizing situation of having to make medical decisions
for a loved one who is currently unable to make his wishes known. Often,
family members disagree on the best course of action, or on what they
believe your wishes would be. To alleviate this potentially traumatic
situation, you can execute a living will.
A living will allows you to provide instructions for treatment you wish
to receive or decline under specific circumstances. Some of the situations
you can choose to address in your living will are:
- Whether you wish to receive certain life-prolonging treatments, such as
CPR, respirator, blood transfusions, etc. at the end of life.
- Whether you wish to receive IV fluids or food if you are in a coma from
which you are unlikely to emerge
- Whether you wish to receive palliative care to keep you as comfortable
as possible even if it hastens your death
Providing clear instructions in a living will can save your family members
from having to make those anguishing decisions themselves, during a time