Seniors: exploring legal matters
As we age, there are many things in our lives that change and need to be addressed in order to ensure that we’re always safe and protected. Among those issues are legal matters specific to seniors. Sometimes we put off making important decisions because we don’t want to think about things like wills or power of attorney, other times we just don’t know where to begin because it all seems so complex.
As a Foresters member, one of the important well-being benefits at your disposal is Legal Link, a benefit that allows you to access certain free and discounted legal services in your area. You can even connect with lawyers for help with a variety of issues including wills, home ownership and family law. Expert legal advice can be invaluable and is sometimes needed when we least expect it, and Legal Link makes it easier to seek legal advice at discounted prices. Members can call Legal Link (1 800 444 3043) to access free or discounted legal services.
In the meantime, it’s useful for seniors to learn a little more about certain legal matters and terms. That way you’re better prepared to make decisions when you do speak to your lawyer.
- Living will. This is a legal document that allows you to let your wishes regarding life-prolonging medical care be known. In this document you make note of what you do and don’t want in terms of medical care in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. Those things might include transfusions, CPR, administration of drugs, use of a respirator and surgery.
- Power of attorney for personal care. This is a legal document that allows someone else to make health-care decisions for you on your behalf if you become incapacitated. It makes sense to choose someone who is emotionally strong enough to handle the kind of difficult decisions that might have to be made. Your living will can be part of your power of attorney—this will help your loved ones make those difficult decisions since they will understand the kind of care you do and do not want.
- Power of attorney for property. This legal document allows someone else to make financial decisions for you, like paying your bills, if you are unable to do so yourself. It is important to make sure that the person you choose to be your power of attorney is someone you trust to always act in your best interests.
- Will. This legal document details the distribution of your estate upon your death. Take time to think about where you’d like those heirlooms with significant value, both sentimental and monetary, to go. Before seeing your lawyer, consider writing up a list of important items and the people you’d like to leave them to so that it can be included in your will.
- Executor. An executor is someone you legally appoint to manage your estate once you have passed away. They are responsible for ensuring that all debts are paid, and for overseeing the estate distribution process— making sure that your cousin Betty gets that necklace you’ve been promising her, for example.
- Important information for your family. List down your financial information and your final requests in a document and ensure your loves ones know where to find it. Download the For My Family document to get started.
It’s always helpful to talk to your adult children about your wishes and concerns as you start to plan for your future by preparing these sorts of legal documents. Keeping them apprised is a good way to avoid any surprises later, and may help make things easier for everyone in the long run.