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What kind of legal documents should be in place to prepare for a parent's end of life? Must an attorney draw them up?

Midland, TX |

Mom is 82. Lives in the same home for 50 years. Good health-takes only one medication per day. Good mobility-although slowly losing that. She drives, but is becoming less comfortable in doing so - drives when she MUST. Is becoming increasingly annoyed with her inability to remember things she regards as important.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. The standard documents would be
    1 Will
    2 Trust
    3 Durable Power of Attorney/Health Care Surrogate
    4 Living Will

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


  2. In addition to what Attorney Pippen has said, I usually try to get the client at that time to tell us how she wants her remains to be settled. That can be a tough issue though.

    You may want to add someone as a signer on her bank account that can pay her bills. That can really help extend her independence as long as the person is trustworthy. Remember to get on line access as well.

    The traditional ways of protecting funds include a burial trust, home repairs so she can stay in the home, personal property that needs to be replaced or upgraded (e.g. TV or cell phone) and other expenditures.

    Hopefully, she wants to cooperate with your planning. Just remind her that you may have to step in to help her and you need the authority to do so to protect her and avoid expensive solutions. You should also make a list of her doctor, accountant, financial advisor, insurance agent etc so you can step in as seamlessly as possible if you are required to.

    In any event, a trip to local counsel will be really helpful to get some ounce of prevention work done to avoid the pound of cure. Lets call it a fire drill to deal with incapacity issues, long term care issues, and passing away issues all in a couple of meetings most likely to make sure all the documents you need are in place and so you know what to do if something unfortunate happens.

    Hope that helps.


  3. I agree with both of the prior answers. It has been my experience, however, that there is no "one size fits all" estate plan. Every client's situation and objectives are somewhat different. It is one of the reasons why it is important to meet with an attorney and get an estate plan that is tailored to your situation, as opposed to downloading forms off the internet or buying cheap forms from an office supply.

    This is important enough to make sure that you get it done properly, and that means visiting an estate planning attorney.

    James Frederick

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.