Ask an Attorney – Aging Parents, Bills and Finances

ask_trust_estate_attorney_los_gatosFolks often call with questions they want to ask an attorney about their aging parents. Some of the parents have a Living Trust, others do not. Questions about Power of Attorney and Conservatorship are frequent. This is something most of us face. It can be a difficult time and present us with challenges we never expected. If you are feeling out of control and becoming worried about an aging relative, remember… Knowledge is Power!

Quick Note: Because every situation is different, the following should be considered “general information.” It is not meant to apply to your specific situation. Please seek the advice of counsel.


Ask an Attorney About Aging Parents & Finances

QUESTION:  What are the key things to look for as I choose an attorney?

ANSWER:  Assuming that the attorney is a certified specialist, I would say that the most important skill is the ability to listen to the client.  Besides drafting sound documents like a Trust, Power of Attorney, or Conservatorship, it is the attorney’s job to help the client achieve his or her goals.  Preserving wealth, while getting it to the proper beneficiaries, is usually high on the list.


QUESTION::  My Father is 88 year old, has a revocable living trust, and is starting to forget to pay his bills.  How can I help him?

ANSWER:  Since your Father has a revocable living trust, he can resign his position as trustee of his living trust (via signing a “Resignation as trustee”) and let the successor trustee named in the trust to begin managing bills. Often, however, there may not be a trust in place. Feel free to read some of my additional post for ways to handle other scenarios.


QUESTION:  My Mother is 79 years old, is becoming increasingly confused, and even missing due dates on her mortgage.  She never signed a living trust and all of her assets are in her name only.  How can I help her?

ANSWER:  If she does not have a revocable living trust, your Mother can sign a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances if she can understand the purpose of the document.  In this document she names an agent who can act for her in financial matters. These documents should be recognized by any financial institution.  If the bank fails to honor it, you may be entitled to attorney’s fees.


QUESTION:  What is a Conservatorship?

ANSWER:  Conservatorship is a determination by the court that a person lacks the capacity to either make personal decisions (medical, for example) and or financial decisions.  A Conservatorship of the person is for personal decisions.  A Conservatorship of the estate is for financial decisions.


QUESTION:  Does having a Power of Attorney (POA) for Finances avoid the necessity of a Conservatorship?

ANSWER:  A Power of Attorney is good so long as the Principal (one signing the document) does not revoke it. If they he or she does revoke it, you may need to go ahead and get a Conservatorship.


San Jose Residents Can Ask An Attorney in Person

If you live in the San Jose area of northern California, and have questions that you would like to ask an attorney, you are welcome to be in touch. I encourage you to print this Free 30 Minute Legal Consultation and use it to get some of your initial questions answered at no charge! Simply call to make and appointment. I always suggest to people, if you have questions or concerns about aging relatives, keep a running list of what they are. As you think of a question, write it down and bring that list with you to your appointment. This will help you make the most of your Free 30min Consultation and get answers to most important ones right away!


estate_planning_living_trust_preparation_losgatos_Diane M. Brown, Esq.
Working every day to keep my clients out of court!
It’s your money… Let’s keep it that way!
Call 408-364-1234



This “ask an attorney” blog contains general information and is not meant to apply to a specific situation. Please seek advice of counsel before proceeding as each case is unique.


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