You want to make sure your legal matters are in order, but you might not know where to start. To help you start this essential conversation, here are 3 questions seniors should ask their lawyers.
Who Will Get Your Things One Day?
If you do not have a will or trust, tell your lawyer how you want to benefit your loved ones. The only way to make sure someone knows your wishes, is to put it in writing. Witnesses and other rules vary from one state to the next, but your lawyer can explain your state’s requirements to you.
If you already have a will or trust, read it again and make sure the people whom you want to inherit from you, are actually the ones named in your estate planning documents. Many people go for several years without looking at their legal documents. If you have not reviewed your will for a while, it might name people who are no longer living.
Sometimes things happen that cause you to want to rework your will. Let’s say someone you care about received a diagnosis of a debilitating condition like Parkinson’s disease, or experienced a financial crisis after you signed your current will. You might want to give additional funds or leave your house to this relative to help with her challenges.
On a happier note, you might have new grandchildren or new relatives by marriage. If you do not update your will, you might leave these people out in the cold.
Are You Getting All the Government Benefits You Deserve?
Many people miss out on hundreds of dollars of Social Security retirement benefits every month. If your earnings record is inaccurate, your monthly check might be lower than it should be. You can get your earnings summary from the Social Security Administration and look for incorrect information.
For example, if an employer did not report your earnings or used the wrong Social Security number, you are not getting credit for your contributions to Social Security and Medicare. Your lawyer can give you more information and suggest options to fix the errors and increase your benefits.
Military veterans often miss out on benefits, because they do not know they are eligible. Your elder law attorney can help you find benefits for veterans and assist you with the application process.
Can a Power of Attorney Protect Your Money and Medical Decisions?
Do you know who will handle your finances or make your medical care decisions, if you become incapacitated? If you have no durable power of attorney for financial matters and one for medical care, the courts must decide who will wield this power over you. Many people are not comfortable having their spouse or other next of kin making those calls.
If you want to control your well-being when you are the most vulnerable, talk with your lawyer about getting these power of attorney documents. You can be creative with your papers, which can be useful if any aspect of your life or your wishes vary from the mainstream.
Talking with your lawyer about these three topics can provide financial security and peace of mind. The laws are different in every state, so be sure that you talk with a nearby elder law attorney about your state’s regulations.
A Place for Mom. “Legal Planning for Seniors.” (accessed November 15, 2018) https://www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice/articles/legal-planning-for-seniors