Aging brings its own legal challenges and issues. Medical problems, medical care and property distribution after death are all areas where taking steps now can save your loved ones a lot of time, money and heartache.

Here are three things that all adults—but especially older adults—should consider having.

An Advanced Health care directive

An advanced health care directive (sometimes called a “living will” or a ”health care directive”) is a legal document that can:

  • Specify whether you want to be an artificial life support if you become permanently unconscious or are otherwise dying and unable to speak for yourself.
  • Name somebody to act as your designated health care decision maker (if you don’t already have one.)

Long-term care insurance

70% of all Americans will need long-term care at some point after they turn 65. Health insurance, which is usually employer based, isn’t designed to cover long-term care costs.

Long-term care insurance is designed to cover long-term care services and support, such as:

  • Alzheimer’s care
  • Nursing home costs
  • In-home nursing
  • Assisted daily living costs (bathing, eating, dressing, housework, etc.)

Like any insurance policy, how much long-term care insurance covers will depend on the policy that is purchased.

For more information, visit the Administration on Aging’s website, www.aoa.gov or

http://longtermcare.gov/

A Will

If a person dies without a Will, they are said to have died “intestate.” If you die intestate, here is what can happen:

  • A court looks to “intestate succession laws” to decide how and to whom your assets will be distributed.
  • Your heirs are powerless to change the Court’s decisions.
  • Your heirs are powerless to fight for what you wanted, even if you verbally told everybody how you wanted your assets distributed.

For the most part, any person eighteen-years-old, or any emancipated minor of sound mind may make a Will. The term “sound mind” means someone who is competent to make contracts and perform all of his or her civil duties; and who has not been deemed incompetent in a prior legal proceeding.

  • There are several websites which can produce simple wills for little or no money.
  • You can also hire a probate attorney.