Livens & Reed, PLLC

Elderly planning includes choices of agents and caregivers

Residents of Texas and elsewhere may sometimes have difficulty deciding which children or loved ones to designate to handle one's individual estate planning and long-term care needs. While one's spouse is the natural first choice, it may turn out that the spouse passes away first and leaves a void in the documents, unless you have alternative choices included in them. Therefore, it's generally advisable to discuss these questions with your children and to make mutually understood elderly planning decisions prior to drawing up the documents.

Putting a long-range plan into place, with alternative choices ready to spring into action, and with all parties agreed on future contingencies, is a good thing. This will avoid a lot of worrying and revising of plans later on, if and when one reaches a state of incapacity. It may not be possible to get unanimity among all of the children or even to get them all to participate.

In such event, you must make the choices and draw up the documents with the best indications that you can determine from the circumstances. Sometimes, allowing two children to share in the control of a financial power of attorney, or even a health care power, can result in conflict and arguments. It may be better to break down the division of labor by appointing different children to different tasks.

Furthermore, with elderly planning, it's helpful to know now which children, if any, will be available to assist in home care needs. If you want to stay home indefinitely, this is necessary due to the prohibitive expenses of private nursing care on a 24/7 basis. You may have purchased long-term care insurance for this purpose, or you may have the finances to invest now in a retirement community where home healthcare will be available. If so, discuss with the family members and make choices understood by everyone. Validate the process by appropriate meetings with your Texas elder law attorney and any trusted financial adviser who may be providing assistance.

Source:, "Planning Ahead: Have a Plan B for estate and long-term care planning", Janet Colliton, Nov. 3, 2014

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