Real Estate & Advance Directives: Options for Assisting Seniors With Real Estate

Assisting loved ones who begin to lose their ability to think clearly and make rational decisions is not easy. It’s not uncommon for some elderly to become unable to make sound decisions about a variety of issues including finances, health care and managing themselves at home. Below are a few legal options for children of aging parents to consider when assisting a loved one.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney grants legal authority to an individual to make decisions on behalf of another. Laws for creating a Power of Attorney vary from state to state. They can be limited to specific issues or broadened to handle many issues such as personal and financial matters, including real estate. In Michigan, a Power of Attorney addressing the sale or refinance of real estate must be filed in the county records where the property is located.

Advanced Directive

A person can use an advance directive to make provisions for health care decisions in case that person becomes unable to make such decisions. There are two main types of advance directives: a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. In some cases, a hybrid of these two directives can be established.

Living Will

This is a signed, witnessed document called a declaration or directive which instruct an attending physician
to withhold or withdraw medical intervention from its signer if the signer’s condition is terminal and is unable to make decisions about medical treatment.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

This is a signed, witnessed document in which the signer designates an agent to make health care decisions on behalf of the signer if the signer is temporarily or permanently unable to make such decisions. The agent in this case will have the authority to decide if health care will be provided, withheld or withdrawn from the signer.

Only a Power of Attorney that specifically addresses real estate will give the agent of the signor, usually an adult child, the authority to deal with a mortgage, loan or disposition of real estate while the signor is living. The other ‘directives’ concern health care and related health issues. All three are significant to good asset planning and protection.

Consider speaking with a qualified attorney to learn more.

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