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Planning eases transition to managing an elder's affairs

Many New York families eventually need to address the care of an aging relative. Caretakers can reduce stress and legal roadblocks by preparing the legal framework to transition responsibilities before the need arises. Proper documentation can express the elder's wishes about medical care, living arrangements and who receives control of money and property. Talking to an elder about an advanced medical directive and a power of attorney creates an opportunity to make additional decisions that could protect assets if the relative needs to enter a nursing home.

Someone helping an elder prepare for the possibility of moving into a nursing facility could collect information about the person's finances and benefits. Previous employers might be providing supplemental benefits, or the person might already have long-term care insurance. A full accounting of the person's existing benefits and assets could enable effective decisions when writing a will or transferring real estate to heirs.

In anticipation of acquiring authority to manage an elder's affairs, a caregiver should track down information about bank accounts, direct deposits, property taxes and expenses for housing and utilities. Knowing what needs to be taken care of will ease the way when a person needs to assume responsibility for day-to-day bill paying.

A person who wants to provide advice to a relative about end-of-life legal issues could talk to an attorney about this type of elder care planning. Estate planning strategies could be available that allow someone to shift assets into a trust or to other family members before entering a nursing home. An attorney might evaluate the elder's financial picture and recommend how to protect assets and obtain government benefits that could pay the residential care facility.

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