Handling the Financial and Legal Aspects of Caregiving

Caregiving can involve handling many financial and legal issues, some of which may seem confusing or overwhelming. Laws can vary from state to state and each person’s situation is unique. That’s why it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a financial planner and/or “elder law” attorney who specializes in disability related issues. Seeking professional advice early on will help you understand all available options and the legal and financial consequences of your choices.

Some actions you might consider taking regarding financial issues include:

  • Reviewing your bank and financial arrangements.
  • Becoming familiar with all aspects of your loved one’s medical insurance coverage, which may include Medicaid, Medicare, or Veteran’s benefits.
  • Investigating if your loved one is entitled to Social Security or pension payments.
  • Meeting with an advisor to plan your family’s finances, including determining the best way to pay for your loved one’s care. Examine ways to protect your existing assets and save for future financial needs.

Some actions you might consider taking regarding legal issues include the following:

  • Completing legal documents, called advance medical directives, designed to establish a person’s wishes with regard to accepting or rejecting medical treatment, particularly in the event of an incapacitating illness or disability. It’s best to complete these documents with your loved one as soon as possible in case their cognitive, or thinking abilities, become affected by HE. These documents include:
    • A living will, where your loved one states their wishes regarding his or her health care, particularly regarding end-of life decisions.
    • A health care proxy or medical power of attorney, in which your loved one designates a trusted individual to make medical decisions on their behalf if they become unable to do so themselves. This can be particularly important in cases of impaired mental capacity, as happens with HE.
  • Another document that’s important to fill out is a HIPPA release form. This authorizes you to have access to your loved one’s private medical information and records.
  • Consider seeking assistance from an attorney or legal aid group specializing in elder law. In addition, many organizations offer information online about the legal aspects of caregiving.