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Little Known Mistakes Families Can Make When Supporting Aging Loved Ones


Do you and your family have aging loved ones you care for? Do you and your family have a plan for the care of your loved ones should your loved ones suddenly fall ill or have an accident? The COVID-19 crisis has forced many families to face how they would respond to a health care emergency involving an elder loved one. Because the pandemic impacted senior adults more than the rest of society, families realized they lacked the basic health care documents needed to act effectively on the behalf of their aging loved ones.

Aging adults are not only vulnerable to the coronavirus, but also accidents, debilitating illness and the effects of aging. This means that families should take steps to protect their senior loved ones, especially by having them meet with a Florida estate planning attorney to create an estate plan. Be mindful that estate planning is not just creating wills and trusts, it also means drafting legally sound health documents.

Unfortunately, there are four mistakes families should avoid when using estate planning documents to advocate for aging loved ones. Families need to protect their aging loved ones if they get the coronavirus, or any other health considerations like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Read more about the four mistakes.

1. Families do not understand what a living will is. First, a living will is definitely not a last will and testament. It is a completely separate legal document that tells others what an elderly family member’s personal choices are concerning his or her health care, and in particular his or her end-of-life medical decisions.

2. Families do not know what their aging loved ones want if they become incapacitated due to an accident or illness. If you and your family do not know the health care wishes of your aging loved ones or it is unclear, then even the most expertly drafted documents will be lacking. You and your family should have specific conversations with your older loved ones about their health care and they should put them in writing. These conversations can serve as the basis for creating accurate health documents, or updating them, and provide future guidance to more effectively advocate for them.

3. Families do not understand what a Florida health care document can do. A Florida health care document is an important estate planning tool for your aging family members and their trusted advocates. These documents will be useless if poorly constructed or if the chosen trusted agent fails to understand his or her authorities that are granted in the document. It is recommended that your aging loved ones meet with a Florida estate planning attorney when creating this important document.

4. Families do not know what the agent for the elder loved one listed in the health care document does. When your elder loved ones create their Florida health care documents, they will be able to choose their own agents, the person they trust most to speak for them in case of their own incapacity. This person is usually a trusted family member or close friend. If your loved one becomes incapacitated for any reason, his or her agent will make medical decisions based on the wishes of your elder loved one.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. When your family or financial health is on the line, trust attorney Paul Riffel to help you protect your interests and achieve your goals. Attorney Paul Riffel has been practicing law in Florida for over 39 years, focusing in the areas of Tampa estate planning and family law. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.

Tampa Estate Planning Attorney

Paul Riffel Law is located in Tampa FL and serves clients in and around Brandon, Tampa, Valrico, Odessa, Thonotosassa, Gibsonton, Sydney, Dover, Land O Lakes, Oldsmar, Apollo Beach, Lithia, Safety Harbor, Trilby, Plant City, Durant, Holiday, Hillsborough County and Pasco County.

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