A new demographic group is emerging in our ever-changing society known as solo agers. These individuals are characterized by their unique circumstances of aging without a spouse, children, or immediate family members to rely on for support in their later years. If you are a solo ager, you may have asked yourself who will look after you if you become incapacitated. The thought of this event may have even prevented you from preparing your legal documents. We want you to know that you are not alone! More and more of the clients we see here at the Woods Law Office are trying to figure out how best to protect themselves in the event of an untimely accident or a life-changing medical condition. Not putting your wishes in writing is never the plan, especially if you do not want the courts and strangers involved in your finances and your healthcare decisions. Here are some tips for you to think about as you choose your advocates for these most important fiduciary roles:
First, consider asking an extended family member: a niece/nephew, cousin, etc… and then consider a trusted friend or business associate to be your agent. Consider those individuals on the basis of their longevity, their trustworthiness, knowledge base, and organizational skills. Once you have someone in mind, you will need to ask them if they are up for the challenge. Being a power of attorney, a patient advocate, or a Trustee requires dedication of time and effort that some people may not be willing to give.
If you are still unable to identify a qualified candidate as your fiduciary, you may want to consider identifying a professional to serve in this capacity. There are professional fiduciary companies and even some local attorneys may choose to serve as a trustee on your behalf. You will need to interview possible paid fiduciaries prior to a medical event so that you can make sound choices that you are comfortable with. It would give you the opportunity to sit with the professional and discuss all of your wishes. If you do not have any plan in place, you could end up with court-appointed strangers making decisions for you and your estate.
Even if you don’t quite have all your key players nailed down, it is time to schedule an appointment with a qualified elder care attorney. He/she may be able to assist you in vetting the right extended family member or another individual to meet and fulfill your needs. If you’re in Michigan, The Woods Law Office PLLC is a trusted resource for many. We have assisted clients for many years in customizing their estate planning needs. If you are interested in learning more, just call the Woods Law Office at 586.532.8970 to set up an appointment.