Caring for an aging or failing parent is difficult on so many levels - but there are several legal options that can make these years easier for you and your parent.If your parent is losing the capacity to make decisions about their personal care, their health, their finances or their property, it may be time to talk to a lawyer about one or more of the following legal options:
Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney gives you the right - and the responsibility - to make decisions or take action on behalf of your parent. Different powers of attorney might be created for different needs. For example, a health care power of attorney allows your parent to name you or another person to make medical decisions for him. A durable “springing” power of attorney drawn up in advance - while your parent is still competent - lets them name someone to handle all their affairs. It goes into effect only when your parent loses capacity to make decisions himself - as determined by one or two physicians familiar with their care.
If you live far from your parents, if finances are complex or if parents are receiving medical care that requires careful monitoring, many families find that naming a licensed and bonded Professional Fiduciary under Power of Attorney is a wise way to go.
A living trust is a revocable trust your parent would set up now to manage his property and finances. You can serve as trustee, multiple persons can be named co-trustees, or you can name a Professional Fiduciary to be the trustee.
Typical duties of a trustee include managing investments, reviewing stock holdings and conferring with financial planners, securing and valuing personal and real property, preparing inventories of assets, preparing financial reports, assist in gathering information for tax returns, property sales, rentals and leases, supervise repairs and maintenance, and manage any businesses held in trust.
Because there is a fair amount of paperwork, management and reporting to be done by a trustee, you may find that naming a Professional Fiduciary to serve as trustee will make your life easier and allow you to spend more quality time with your loved one.
If your parent chooses to name you as Trustee, you may wish to ask that a Professional Fiduciary be named as successor trustee, to take over for you if you should find you are unable to serve for any reason. Creating this succession allows for a seamless transition and insures that your parent's assets and care are never compromised.
Conservatorship and Guardianship
If your loved one is no longer able to make wise decisions about his or her care or finances, a Conservator may be the best way to protect their funds. Professional Conservators are licensed and bonded and appointed through a court proceeding.
Conservatorships can be voluntary or involuntary and all funds expended must be approved by the Court and made for the direct benefit of the protected person.
Arizona law allows for appointment of a Guardian for the Person if the court finds that someone is unable to make responsible decisions about their personal care because he or she suffers from mental disorders, chronic use of drugs or alcohol, or a physical illness or disability, including dementia or Alzheimers'. The law lays out very specifically the duties of a Guardian.
If your parent is able to determine in advance that he or she will need assistance, they may make decisions about their care while they are still competent. For example, a competent parent may name the person they wish to serve as their Conservator or Guardian when the need arises. A licensed, bonded and experienced fiduciary can be appointed as guardian or conservator if that direction is given by your parent while they are still competent. Talk with your legal representative about how a power of attorney can be used to make this designation.
A Guardian and/or Conservator also can be appointed by court process if the court determines that your parent is no longer able to handle his finances and is dissipating his or her assets.
Non-Arizona Residents- Arizona Fiduciary Services can help you care for your aging or ailing parent in Arizona.
If your parent resides all or part of the year in Arizona and you live in another state, Arizona Fiduciary Services may be able to assist you by serving as Power of Attorney, Guardian, Conservator to assist your loved one while they are in Arizona. A licensed and bonded fiduciary close at hand can save you time, travel and worry about meeting your parent's needs.
Licensed Private Fiduciary