Suddenly becoming a primary caregiver for a loved one in Connecticut can be a stressful time for multiple reasons, including both the certain emotional distress of witnessing the deterioration of an elder family member and the uncertainty of how to act in that person’s best interests in legal matters.
Many Middlesex County residents and others in Connecticut unexpectedly thrust into the role as a primary caregiver for an elder Connecticut resident assume that authority to act is based on family relation, but that is not always the case. If you are the spouse, child, or next-of-kin of the Connecticut Elder, such status gives you no legal authority in and of itself. If you are the joint owner with the Elder over a bank account, your authority is limited to the account, but there is no authority to make decisions regarding any solely-owned assets of the Elder.
Properly planning for personal and financial decision-making authority depends upon the current state of the Connecticut Elder. If the Elder is mentally competent to act, s/he may create a number of documents to property assign decision-making authority to loved ones, including:
- Power of Attorney for finances
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- A living will
- Trust agreement
- HIPAA Release (Privacy Act) to release health information
- Advance Designation of Conservator.
By employing these tools, an Elder may both (1) reduce costs and delays in asset management, and (2) ensure that his/her selection of the most appropriate persons to take on these roles and responsibilities is followed upon disability.
If the Elder is no longer competent and has not created any of the foregoing documents, planning for financial and person decision-making authority is significantly more complicated. In those circumstances, you as the caregiver (or another concerned person) must institute conservator proceedings in the probate court district within which the Elder resides to have legal authority to assist the Elder. Conservator proceedings can take significant time and cost, and often delve into very personal affairs that most Elders would prefer to avoid if given the choice.
Don’t wait for a crisis to start a disability decision-making plan. We can discuss the available options for your loved one, create the tools to assure his/her independence and autonomy, and advise when changes to an existing disability plan should be made. Call us for a consultation today.
– D. Jeanne Messick, Esq.
Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.