We want to live in a society that values people of every age, cherishing the wisdom of our elders and taking care of them on their journey through the golden years. One way we at Texas Legal can do that is by providing legal insurance that gives older Americans access to qualified attorneys when they need one without having to worry about the cost. If you are entering your golden years or taking care of a beloved friend or family member as they do, here’s how Texas Legal can help.
Making an Estate Plan
If you or your loved one doesn’t already have an estate plan, the time to get one is now. No one wants you to be mired in probate and legal affairs for years to come. Making an estate plan, even if your assets are quite small, can simplify the process and give everyone significant peace of mind. An estate plan doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. With a legal plan like Texas Legal, you can meet with an estate planning attorney and get your will or trust done for free, as well as updated yearly for any changes that need to be made.
Establishing Power of Attorney
Do you know who would be in charge of your affairs if you were unable to make decisions? Most of us would want to choose the person making decisions for us, not have it assigned by a judge we don’t know when we’re already incapacitated or ill. Your estate planning attorney can establish a Power of Attorney document that spells out who would have the legal authority to make decisions if you or your loved one is unable to do so.
If you don’t have power of attorney documents in place when a person becomes incapacitated or unable to make their own decisions, you must go through the process of establishing guardianship. This is a much lengthier legal process that requires an application, hearing and several court processes. To obtain guardianship, you definitely need an attorney’s help. Having a legal plan can make that process much less expensive and much easier.
Creating a Living Will
We all want our wishes to be respected when it comes to our bodies and lives. These choices are intensely personal and involve our spiritual beliefs, practices and preferences. A Living Will spells out under what circumstances you want or would not want medical care to save your life or keep you alive. Knowing that their personal wishes will be respected can give you peace of mind and a level of confidence and trust in your relationships with those who care for you.
Protecting Them From Scams, Fraud and Elder Abuse
Nefarious individuals often target the older Americans with scams, stealing money or even ceding control of the person’s money and life decisions. Good communication, as well as having paperwork in place and a trusted lawyer to call can really help prevent these situations. Although many people assume that they’re out of luck if they are ripped off by a scam or fraud situation, a good consumer law attorney can help you or your loved one get their money back. In the case of a scam or fraud, you should also contact the Texas State Attorney General’s Office. If you suspect your loved one is being abused or taken advantage of by someone, contact an elder law attorney right away, as well as contacting the police to tell them what you think is going on.
An identity theft program, like Experian IdentityWorks, is also a good idea. These programs monitor a person’s identity for signs of identity theft and send alerts when there’s something wrong. They can also help you fix problems if you are the victim of identity theft. Experian IdentityWorks is a free service for Texas Legal Members which provides credit and identity theft monitoring and help restoring your identity if it is stolen.
If you have a life insurance policy, it’s important to file the paperwork to list someone as the beneficiary. This easy process insures that the person you intend receives the money.
It’s also a good idea to have them list a beneficiary on their bank accounts, even small ones. If someone dies without naming a beneficiary on a bank account, family members can’t access the money, and going through the legal system can cost them more than what you have in the account if it is a small amount. Texas Legal attorney Tom O’Leary says he gets many calls from potential clients, hoping to recover money from a relative’s account, finding out that the legal fees would be more than the asset itself.
“I can’t tell you how many times you have somebody coming into the office. Their uncle died and he really didn’t have a lot of assets, but he had $3500 in a bank account,” says O’Leary. “I ask the family if they are named on the account, and when the answer is no, I explain that they’re going to spend $3500 in legal fees to get that $3500.”
Organize Personal Information
After you take the steps to get the legal documents you need, it’s good to organize them. Texas Legal offers a free personal information organizer download that you can print out and fill out for your loved one so that everything is organized.
Consider a Legal Plan
A legal plan can lets you know you have an attorney when you need it and not delay important tasks like estate planning. It also saves a lot of money on legal fees if an issue arises. Our members tell us they have great peace of mind, knowing that they can call an attorney when a legal issue comes up, and have the expert guidance they deserve without fearing a high cost. A legal plan might be a good answer for you or someone you care for. Learn more about joining Texas Legal.