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Cheryl Mathieu, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Ask the Expert Geriatric Care Manager

February 2nd, 2008
What legal documents do my parents need, and who can help us with this?

I would suggest consulting a local elder law attorney. They can explain specifically what is appropriate for your loved one, as each person’s situation is a little different.

Everyone should have a Power of Attorney for Health Care, which appoints an individual (proxy) to direct medical decisions for you if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. Also, it is important to have Health Care Advanced Directives (a living will, for example), so that your loved ones and your power of attorney know the course of treatment to be taken if you can no longer make decisions for yourself.

Other legal documents to ask the attorney about are: Power of Attorney for Finances, a Trust, a Will, and a Do Not Resuscitate order. The AgingPro’s internet resource link list has a list of where to find free or inexpensive forms to fill out. Remember, different states have different laws and forms, so be sure to get state-specific information.

The truth is, everyone needs these documents, no matter what your age. You never know when you may need them. Creating these documents for your older loved ones is a great time for the whole family to create them.

Do it now!
Dr. Mathieu

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