Legal Considerations For Brentwood At Home Healthcare
When discussing at home healthcare options, be sure to consider legal concerns in the Brentwood, TN area
When creating a care plan for an elderly loved one in Brentwood, TN, it’s just as important to consider legal needs as health needs. Whether your family chooses a nursing home, assisted living facility, at home healthcare, or some other plan, there are legal implications for your family and your loved one. Take the time to ensure that your legal affairs and documents are in order.
Does your family have an advance directive?
Advance health care directives are legal documents that that help seniors specify what type of senior care services and medical intervention should be made in case of them becoming seriously ill or incapacitated. A directive can specify whether an individual should be moved to a particular facility, or whether at home healthcare should be accessed first, so it’s important to have a directive as you build a care plan for your aging loved one.
There are two types of advance directives:
- A living will. This will contains information on what type of health care should be provided, and is legally effective in the event that your loved one can no longer make decisions for themselves.
- A power of attorney for health care. This special power of attorney assigns a person to make health-related decisions in the event that that person can no longer make decisions for themselves.
Your loved one’s decision about which document to use, and what’s in it, will impact the whole family. This is a discussion you’ll want to have as early as possible, so that the whole family can understand the wishes of your elderly loved one.
What if my family doesn’t have an advance directive?
If your elderly loved one doesn’t have either a living will or a power of attorney, a court can hire a guardian who will act in the best interest of your loved one. A guardian becomes responsible for personal, financial, and health care decisions. The guardian may or may not be a family member. After an individual becomes disabled or is unable to make their own medical decisions, the guardian will make decisions on their behalf.
A court may also hire a conservator to act on behalf of someone who is incapacitated. A conservator is responsible for financial decisions. This can include spending on health care, estate planning, asset management, and day to day expenses.
Both a guardian and a conservator can make decisions like whether a nursing home, assisted living facility, or at home healthcare should be implemented.
What other documents might be needed?
Your loved one may have already set up a will or trust as part of their estate planning. These documents can determine end-of-life decisions, as well as asset management after the individual has died. A will is a legal document that states an individual’s last wishes, such as who will receive any assets upon their death. A trust is more versatile. A trust can be created to ensure care for a dependent family member, state their last wishes, and assist in estate planning.
How should my family organize our legal paperwork?
It’s important to keep these documents safe, but as your loved one ages or begins to access advanced medical care, you’ll want to keep them close at hand. Legal, financial, medial, and personal information should be maintained in a secure location, whether that’s as a hard copy in a locked drawer, or as a file saved on your computer.
Here are some helpful resources to help you get informed on legal matters for seniors.
- The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Commission on Law and Aging
- The ABA’s Guide to Wills and Estates
- Find a Lawyer tool on the Tennessee Bar's website
- Find a Lawyer tool on the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys’ website
- The Law Issues for Consumers section of the ABA's website