Sunday, April 21, 2024

Legal Talk: Tools for caregivers

A lot of us – 53 million to be exact – have provided care to a family member at some time in the past year. And while caregiving can be viewed as a noble marathon, it can also leave us stressed, anxious and overwhelmed.

Rather than give caregivers a pep talk filled with unrealistic visions of scented candles, long baths and quiet time, this column will give some practical suggestions.

Have the necessary documents in place so you can do what you need to do with a minimum of bureaucratic hassle.  If you are caring for an adult who has capacity, then that person needs to name you as primary agent in a written durable (financial) power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and a HIPAA release.  There should also be a second agent named in case you are unavailable. Do not mess around and try to download these documents off the internet – spend the money and have an experienced attorney advise you and draft them.

If you are caring for an adult who is already incapacitated and does not have those documents, then talk to an attorney because you may need to get a guardianship. If the adult is your spouse, then you may be able to sidestep a guardian and manage the community estate with a simple court finding that the adult is incapacitated.

If you are caring for a special needs child, then make sure you have your own documents in order that name a guardian for that child in the event you are no longer able to handle the duties. You will also want to set up a special needs trust that will not disqualify the child from receiving government benefits.

That handles the business side. Now for you. Caring for others is long term commitment, so rest is critical. Explore resources that are available to you, including respite care and adult day care. These should give you a short break, with the bonus of giving the incapacitated person something different to do.

Caregiver groups are out there; you just must make the effort to connect. With 53 million going through the same basic experience, it makes sense to pool thoughts and ideas.

Scented candles help, too.

Timothy Wilson is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force where he served as a telecommunications technician. Attorney Wilson is an attorney at Hammerle Finley Law Firm, a boutique law firm offering services in estate planning, probate, guardianship, business law, litigation, and real estate. Contact him at (972) 436-9300. 

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CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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