Planning for Dementia & Old Age: A Guide to Wills, Power of Attorney, Advanced Care Directives
As we age, our health may begin to decline, and it's important to have a plan in place for the future. Planning for dementia and old age, or even ill health, can be a complex process, but it's important to take the time to ensure that your wishes are known and that you are prepared for any eventuality. In this article, we will cover various important undertakings that are required for planning for dementia and old age, including wills, powers of attorney, advanced care directives, executors, and more.
It is really important to understand that it is best to plan while you are still healthy and able to make the right decisions for your future care. If you wait until you are not well and unable to make decisions, then you might have missed the chance to have your wishes and plans implemented the way you would have chosen. Planning for old age and ill health is a strength, not a weakness. It will optimise the quality of your life and help your loved one respect your wishes and preferences if and when they have to arrange care to meet your future needs.
Important Terms and Definitions
First, it's important to understand some key definitions.
Advance Care Directive
An advanced care directive is a document that sets out your wishes for medical treatment if you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
An enduring guardianship is a legal arrangement where an individual appoints a person or persons, they trust to make important decisions on their behalf regarding their health and lifestyle when they are no longer able to do so themselves.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make them.
Enduring Power of Attorney
An enduring power of attorney is a specific type of power of attorney that continues even if you become incapacitated.
A will is a legal document that sets out your wishes for how your assets will be distributed after your death.
An executor is a person who is responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will after your death.
Step-by-Step Guide to Planning for Dementia and Old Age
1. Start by talking to your loved ones about your wishes
It's important to have open and honest conversations about your desires for your future care and end-of-life decisions.
2. Create an Advanced Care Directive
This document sets out your wishes for medical treatment if you are unable to make those decisions yourself. For more information and to complete a form visit: NSW Health.
3. Choose an Enduring Guardian
In NSW, to appoint an enduring guardian, the person must be over 18 years old and have the capacity to make this decision on their own. The appointed guardian must also be over 18 years old and not have any financial interest or work in a professional capacity for the person who is appointing them. Additionally, an individual cannot appoint a person who is providing treatment, accommodation, support, or care on a paid basis to them as their enduring guardian. However, they can appoint someone who receives a carer payment or allowance.
4. Consider Setting up a Power of Attorney
This can give someone you trust the ability to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make them yourself. The easiest way to arrange a power of attorney is to book an appointment with your solicitor or NSW Trustee & Guardian office.
5. Consider Setting up an Enduring Power of Attorney
This specific type of power of attorney continues even if you become incapacitated. The easiest way to arrange a power of attorney is to book an appointment with your solicitor or NSW Trustee & Guardian office.
6. Make a Will
This is an essential part of any estate planning process. A will ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death. There are several options available to assist you in establishing a will in NSW.
Have your will made by a solicitor, which can lessen the chances of errors or disputes arising.
Appoint the NSW Trustee & Guardian as an independent and professional executor of your Will. They can also take over the task of making your will if requested. NSW Trustee & Guardian will ensure that areas covered by testamentary capacity are addressed when drafting your will, and provide impartial witnesses. However, fees will apply if you appoint the NSW Trustee & Guardian as your executor.
Seek free legal advice and assistance for making a will and other areas of law from Seniors Rights Service or LawAccess NSW.
7. Choose an Executor
This is a person, or persons, who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will after your death. Make sure to choose someone you trust to handle your affairs. To appoint an executor in NSW, you can name them in your will.
8. Establish a Way to Manage Finances
The best way to manage finances for the elderly or people in care will depend on their individual circumstances and preferences. Here are some options:
Establish a power of attorney,
Appoint a financial guardian,
Set up a joint bank account.
Establish a trust which is a legal arrangement where assets are held by a trustee for the benefit of beneficiaries. A family trust deed is a legal document that sets out the objectives of the fund and establishes how the asset and the corresponding income of the family trust are to be managed, operated, and distributed.
These options allow an appointed person to manage finances on behalf of the elderly or people in care. The best way to proceed is to book an appointment with your solicitor.
9. Keep your documents in a safe place
Keep all your documents where they can be easily accessed by your loved ones if necessary, especially in an emergency.
According to the New South Wales Trustee & Guardian, there are several options for storing important documents such as wills, powers of attorney, enduring powers of attorney, and advanced care directives. You can store your documents in one of the following ways:
with your solicitor or lawyer,
in a fireproof safe at home,
in a safe deposit box at a bank,
the New South Wales Trustee & Guardian offers a document storage service where they will store your documents for free if you appoint them as your executor or power of attorney. Otherwise, there is a one-time fee of $29 for a single document deposit or $49 for up to three documents. Seniors cardholders can receive a discounted fee of $29 for up to three documents.
It is important to make sure that the documents are easily accessible to the people who will need them, such as your executor or attorney, and that they are kept in a safe and secure location.
10. Review and Update Regularly
Your wishes may change over time, so reviewing and updating your plan is important.
Health and Estate Planning
Estate planning is the process of making decisions about how to manage health decisions and distribute one's assets and affairs in the event of incapacity or death. The process of estate planning is usually initiated by the individual or their family members. It is important to do it when you are well, if you do not do it and have an injury, accident or your health fails for some other reason it can be too late.
The Roles of Professionals in Estate Planning
Various professionals can play a role in helping with the process.
Doctors play a critical role in healthcare and medicine, and their role in estate planning is primarily to ensure that their patients' medical needs are met. While doctors may not have a direct role in estate planning, their involvement in a patient's healthcare can have implications for estate planning decisions, such as end-of-life care and medical decision-making.
Psychologists can play a role in health and estate planning by helping individuals and families navigate the emotional and psychological challenges that can arise during the planning process, especially when decisions are made around end-of-life care or inheritances.
Solicitors and Lawyers
Solicitors and Lawyers can assist with drafting legal documents, such as wills and trusts.
Accountants and Financial Planners
Accountants and financial planners can provide advice on how to structure and manage assets to minimize taxes and ensure that the individual's financial goals are met.
In conclusion, planning for unforeseen events, old age and end of life can be a complex process. It is important to take the time to ensure that your wishes are known and that you are prepared for any eventuality. By following these steps and consulting with professionals as needed, you can create a plan that will give you and your loved ones peace of mind for the future.
Find a Psychologist
If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty, professional support is available. Contact iflow Psychology today at 02 6061 1144 to schedule an appointment.
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The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. Prior to making any decisions, we recommend consulting your treating doctor, health professionals, and legal representatives. This is particularly important if you have health concerns, existing mental health or medical conditions, or if you feel you are not coping.
(c) 2023 Dean Harrison