Many of us are members of the sandwich generation. Not only are we caring for children, but we are also caring for our parents. After wishing for more time and energy, the most useful items are legal documents. We need the right legal documents for our parents, our children, and ourselves.
For our parents, having a power of attorney for health care and a power of attorney for finances allows us to care for them without becoming personally financially responsible for them. We will care for them regardless of whether we have the legal authority; but if we sign our names to the bottom line, then we take the risk of being held personally liable for their debts whether those debts be to a hospital, care facility, or nursing home.
For our children, we also need powers of attorney for health care and finances. When our young adults leave for college, they are legally adults. We may still being paying for health insurance, utilities, tuition, and books but paying for it does not give us any power. We are will not be allowed to help if there are health problems (potential HIPAA violations), contract negotiations (while the kids may be studying abroad), or grades and scholarship problems. Our children have contracts with the college; we do not and thus we are not parties to any of the agreements and negotiations.
For ourselves, we need to appoint agents under powers of attorney for health care and finances. Sometimes, being sandwiched can lead to our health problems. We need documents in place so that someone can step into our shoes if we need help making health care decisions or financial decisions.
Whether you are caregiving or being cared for, everyone needs a health care power of attorney and a financial power of attorney.
Karen Baim Reagler is a managing partner with Baim Reagler and Naramore, PLLC. Focusing her practice in estate planning, Mrs. Reagler can be reached at 501-609-9800.