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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Caregivers, You’re Not Planning Just for Yourself

Caregivers, You’re Not Planning Just for Yourself

As a caregiver, you spend much of your time, money, and energy taking care of the needs of others. Those in southern California who have taken on the role of caregivers for ill or disabled spouses, aging parents, children, or other loved ones with special needs are amazing , giving and selfless individuals who too often do not stop to consider their own needs.

Your job as a caregiver is invaluable, but it may exact a heavy toll if you do not seek out the help of others. We want you to know that you are not alone: There are resources available throughout San Diego County that can make your job as a caregiver easier. It is important to seek out the emotional support of others, either family members or other caregivers, who can understand and empathize with both the rewards and the physical, emotional, and financial burdens associated with caregiving. There are also amazing programs that provide respite care or adult daycare that can allow you to take a much-needed and well-deserved break. State or federal aid and tax credits or deductions may be available to help ease your financial burden as well.

Care for Yourself and Your Loved Ones by Creating an Estate Plan

As your San Diego Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorneys, we are another resource you can look to for support. If you are caring for aging parents or other family members with disabilities, it is essential to ensure that you not only address your own emotional and financial health, but that you have an estate plan in place that addresses both your needs and the needs of those you care for. We can provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing not only that a plan is in place for your future, but also the future of the loved one under your care. Knowing that your loved one will continue to receive loving care, even if something happens to prevent you from continuing to acting in the role of caregiver, will help ease any concerns you have about your loved one’s care.

Name a Guardian

If you are a parent who is acting as a caregiver for a special needs child, you should name a both a short term care custodian and a long term guardian—and more than one alternative—in your estate planning documents. Think about and discuss who can serve in the role of physical caregiver for your special needs child if you pass away or are no longer able to care for them. Otherwise, the decision about who will act as a guardian will be left to the court, which may not reflect your wishes. At the same time execute a medical treatment power of attorney giving to someone you trust the power to authorize medical treatment for your special needs child if needed to protect against any time when you are not available.

If the care recipient is an adult who is not legally competent to act for themselves, you must ask a court to name you as your loved one’s conservator to be able to make decisions about their health care, living arrangements, and finances. If you are providing day-to-day care, you may want may want to share the burden by choosing a trusted person to handle your care recipient’s financial matters as their court appointed conservator.

What happens if you are no longer able to act in the role of conservator for your adult care recipient? State law varies regarding the designation or appointment of a successor conservator for an adult. Some states allow a standby conservator to be appointed at the same time the first caregiver is appointed or to be designated in the initial guardian’s will or in another written document, as long as it is properly witnessed. If anything happens to you, the standby conservator can immediately step in to begin providing care. Some states allow a standby conservator to serve for a brief time but require approval by a court before being appointed as the permanent conservator. Still, other states have laws enabling the court to consider an individual you nominate in your will as a successor conservator when the court is making the decision about who is the best person to take on that role. We can help you determine the best course available for you.

Consider a Special Needs Trust

A will alone is unlikely to adequately address the needs of your care recipient. If you leave money outright to the person for whom you are caring or to another caregiver, it could be spent in a way that is contrary to your wishes, and will become vulnerable to creditors of the recipient. In addition, it could make your loved one ineligible for government benefits or aid.

A special needs trust is an estate planning tool that may be very beneficial for your care recipient. A special needs trust can help preserve the beneficiary’s eligibility for government benefits, name a well-qualified trustee to manage the trust funds, designate a care manager, and preserve your loved one’s quality of life. Along with your financial advisor, we can help determine which of your resources can be used to fund the special needs trust or if a life insurance policy may be needed to ensure that there are sufficient funds available to provide for the beneficiary’s care. We can help you create a trust that sets aside, protects, effectively manages, and distributes assets for your care recipient’s lifetime, and equally important, designates a trusted individual to act as an advocate for your loved one if you cannot.

The Weissler Law Group is Here for You.

It is important not only to recognize your own emotional needs and develop the skills needed to deal with the stresses of caregiving, but also to reach out for help when you need it. As a caregiver, it is crucial to ensure not only that your own future is secure, but to also create plans that provide for your family and care recipient if something should happen to you. Take the time to create an estate plan, or if you have a plan in place, to reevaluate it at regular intervals to address changing life circumstances and laws. Please call us today at (619) 281-1888 to set up a meeting. We can help put your mind at ease by designing a plan that provides security for you, your family, and your care recipient.

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The Attorneys of the Weissler Law Group assist clients in San Diego, California as well as in: Coronado, Pacific Beach, Del Mar, Solana Beach, La Jolla, Del Cerro, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee, El Cajon, Rancho Bernardo, Poway, Escondido, National City, Spring Valley, and Chula Vista.



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