Great question. Your mother should have at least a “base” estate plan in place. First, she needs to put someone in place for financial and medical decisions if she can no longer handle her affairs. Be very careful here – many times a “form” or “standard” power of attorney doesn’t work the way you expect. We see powers of attorney on a regular basis that don’t cover all necessary areas. If you haven’t planned for incapacity the right way, the Probate Court gets involved and may appoint a Guardian and/or Conservator for you. Also, it is critical to talk with your mother about what she wants in certain medical situations. If she is in a coma or vegetative state, does she want to be kept alive on machines? If her doctors say it is unlikely she will recover from an end-of-life disease, what does she want? It is important that you are “carrying out her wishes” as opposed to “making a decision for her”. Second, your mother must make sure she has a Will or Trust to handle her assets after she is gone. This is to make sure her assets are handed down in the most efficient, tax-friendly way possible, and avoid probate court.
We offer a free consultation to talk about your estate plan – feel free to call me at (517) 548-7400 or email me at [email protected] if you would like more specific answers. Also check out my Elder Care Whiteboard Videos at www.MichiganEstatePlans.com for information on specific estate planning and elder law topics.
Glenn Matecun is a partner with the law firm of Matecun, Thomas & Olson, PLC in Howell. He is an attorney focusing on estate planning, elder law and senior Veterans’ benefits, and answers readers’ questions on legal matters affecting individuals, their families and their businesses. Email questions to [email protected], or if your question is urgent, call (517) 548-7400. Visit us at www.MichiganEstatePlans.com. The information in this column is not intended as legal advice.