Senior Planning: Legal and Financial Considerations

For older adults, it’s never too soon to start preparing for the future, even if they are perfectly healthy. Before an illness or injury creates added stress and urgency to legal and financial planning, seniors and their families should consider how they would like their property, finances and their own health cared for should anything happen to them. 

“Far too often, people wait to get their affairs in order until it’s too late,” says Polly West, Executive Director at Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods in Nicholasville, KY. “Planning now to protect your assets and future well-being allows you to make the best decisions for yourself and get the most out of the benefits to your plans. You’ll also save your family and loved ones from having to make difficult choices down the road. 

“We encourage seniors to be proactive by looking into available options for legal and financial protection. Investing time and resources in planning now makes for a peaceful, confident future.”

Protecting Your Assets and Well-Being 

Although we would like to think that we’ll always be able to take care of ourselves, we never know what each day will bring. Legal and financial plans offer seniors and their loved ones security and peace of mind from knowing that whatever the future holds has already been taken care of.

There are many legal options when it comes to protecting your assets. A Place for Mom’s article, “Legal Planning for Seniors,” describes the most common legal plans used by older adults. Here are a few to consider:

  • Living Wills – A living will, also known as an advanced directive, is a written document that states how you would like to be cared for if you become terminally ill, incapacitated or cannot communicate your health care wishes.

    A living will ensures that you receive the health care and treatments that you prefer, even if you are unable to communicate. Living wills can also include end-of-life preferences. To ensure that the wishes stated in a living will are carried out by health care providers, you can name a trusted loved one as your Power of Attorney to make sure your wishes are respected.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – Naming someone your Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) gives that person the legal power to manage and make decisions about your care and finances should you become unable to yourself. A DPOA is usually a spouse or trusted family member who understands your wishes and will make decisions that are in your best interest.

    While a DPOA is responsible for making decisions on your behalf, they cannot override your decisions if you are still capable of making them. Choosing a DPOA should be handled carefully, as he or she may be responsible for making life-altering decisions. Communication with a DPOA is vital in order to ensure they understand your preferences and concerns regarding the management of your health care and assets. 
  • Living Trusts – Similar to a last will, a living trust allows you to pass on property after death. In order to do this, you must transfer the ownership and control of your assets to the trust during your lifetime. A trustee (i.e., yourself, a chosen loved one or bank) manages the assets put into the trust according to your directions. After death, your trusted assets are given to the beneficiaries you chose when creating the trust.

    There are pros and cons to living trusts. In comparison to a last will, living trusts usually don’t require the costly and time-consuming court processes that wills do. Another benefit to a living trust is that your trustee will have the legal ability to handle your property if you ever become incompetent due to health issues.

    On the other hand, living trusts cost more in legal fees than last wills. They are also complex and vary based on type, so trusts require more research and understanding on your part. An attorney and accountant can help you decide on the best kind of trust for your situation. 

Legal Planning for a Loved One with Dementia

While planning ahead is important for every senior, it is especially important for someone diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Since a loved one with Alzheimer’s will eventually lose the capacity to fully understand their circumstances, necessary legal decisions will need to be made by a family member in the final stages of the disease.

If your loved one has dementia, it’s important to begin making legal plans with them as soon as they are diagnosed. This way, they will be able to take advantage of as many opportunities to take part in the planning and make decisions for themselves while they are still cognitively able.

Even if your loved one still has the mental capacity to make decisions, their disease may make them unable to complete all legal and financial planning themselves. As you assist your loved one, be as comprehensive as you can with regard to their assets and existing legal documents. Your loved one may no longer remember having completed a living will or power of attorney document. The Alzheimer’s Association has advice for helping a loved one with legal planning on their website.

Care for the Present. Peace of Mind for the Future. 

“Planning for the future is one of the best things seniors can do,” says West. “You can’t put a price on the peace of mind you can have from knowing your future care – and your family’s well-being – is secure. Instead of waiting until an illness or accident forces legal decisions, seniors who plan ahead can move toward the coming years confidently.”

Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods provides Assisted Senior Care, Memory Care and Adult Day Services to seniors and their families. As a resource for family caregivers, Bridgepointe offers educational guidance and support for those caring for aging loved ones on a variety of topics from legal planning to care techniques. Visit our website to see upcoming programs on our events calendar.

Live Life to the Fullest at Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods

Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods is a new Christian Care Community offering assisted senior care, memory care and adult day services. Located in Brannon Crossing, one of central Kentucky’s most desirable areas, Bridgepointe was designed to help families grow closer as they grow older.

At Bridgepointe, residents enjoy the privacy and dignity of living in their own apartment as well as the peace of mind of support and assistance from a special team of caregivers. In short, we help our residents live life to its fullest.

Our community is designed to promote activity, interaction, socialization and enjoyment. We offer a variety of engaging activities daily, from yoga and tai chi to gardening and arts and crafts. At Bridgepointe, there’s never a dull moment and always something to do! 

Discover a rich and fulfilling lifestyle combined with personalized care and support delivered by a team of experienced professionals … all within a secure, elegantly appointed community. 

We invite you to visit today and discover how Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods can change your life for the better! 

To learn more, contact us today!