What to do if your elderly parent needs help making decisions

What do you do if your elderly parent needs help making decisions?

  1. Determine what level of help that they need.  This is often easier said than done. You should look at their physical, mental and emotional health and try to determine whether they are still in a position to make their own decisions.  Sometimes the elderly can still come to their own decision about their medical care, where they live, etc., but they simply need help implementing their decisions.  Sometimes the elderly have become so cognitively impaired, or are so vulnerable, that they can no longer even make their own decision, let alone implement it. Most times, the elderly lie somewhere in between these two extremes. Figuring out what level of help they need often requires the input of the elderly person’s physician. Sometimes you can tell what level of assistance is needed just based upon your own interactions with mom or dad.
  2. If mom or dad can still make their own decisions, but just need help implementing their decisions, you should take them to an estate planning attorney who can meet with them and get legal documents or other things in place that will allow someone else to help them implement their decisions.  These things range from joint accounts to a health care directive to a power of attorney. The estate planning attorney could even put them in touch with resources to help them develop a care plan for if their health takes a turn for the worse.
  3. If mom or dad can no longer make their own decisions to keep themselves safe, then you should determine whether they have in place legal documents that allow someone else to make decisions for them.  These documents are a health care directive (for medical decisions) and a power of attorney (for financial decisions). Depending on the details of the documents and the particular circumstances that mom or dad face, these might be sufficient to allow someone else to act on mom or dad’s behalf.
  4. If mom or dad can no longer make their own decisions to keep themselves safe and they do not have any legal documents or other measures in place, then you likely need to pursue the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator for mom or dad.  Most people find that they need the assistance of an attorney to do this.

If you have questions about how you can help your elderly parents with decision-making, please contact Cindi Spence of Spence Legal Services at (763) 682-2247.

Minor Inheritances Likely Require Conservatorships

What happens when a child that is under the age of 18 inherits money, either through an estate or directly as a named beneficiary on a life insurance policy or account?  Typically, the minor is required to have a conservator appointed to accept and manage the inheritance. Parents of the minor are usually surprised to learn that this is necessary and that they can’t just receive and manage the money on the minor’s behalf, since they are the parents. The process of having a conservator appointed for a minor who is named to receive an inheritance is usually uncontested. However, because of the procedural requirements that must be followed in order to have a conservator appointed, many people find it necessary and useful to have an attorney represent them. If you choose not to have an attorney, the Court will still hold you to all of the Court rules and require that the statutes be followed. Time and again I have seen well meaning parents attempt the paperwork on their own, only to have the process delayed because they didn’t follow all of the Court rules to establish a conservatorship for their minor child. If you have questions about the process to establish a minor conservatorship, please reach out to Cindi Spence at Spence Legal Services (763) 682-2247.

 

Help! My Minnesota Conservator is Confusing!

“Help!  My Minnesota Conservator is confusing!”

I hear this often from callers to Spence Legal.

MyMNConservator is Minnesota’s online conservatorship accounting program that allows (requires) conservators to file their inventory and annual accountings, which are required, electronically. While the MyMNConservator system has received national recognition, it is not free from complaints.

For the family (non-professional) conservator, MyMNConservator (“MMC”) is confusing. Heck, even for professional conservators (conservators for several non-family member clients), MyMNConservator can be challenging.  I think part of what makes it so challenging is that each conservatorship is unique – in terms of assets, income and expenses. The categories offered by MMC don’t always cover the situation. Gathering and entering the appropriate data can be a challenge, particularly during the first year of the conservatorship, when the conservator is just getting used to the assets and expenses of the protected person. Many family conservators are “old school” themselves and do not have the knowledge or sophistication to use an online accounting program, even when there are tutorials, guides and a help line available. I often see family conservators in court explaining to the judge that they don’t even own a computer (really!) and they just want to file their accounting with pencil and paper. Unfortunately, Courts only grant requests to file conservatorship accountings on paper in extraordinary circumstances.

Spence Legal assists conservators with MyMNConservator (and its’ predecessor – CAMPER).  If you need help with MyMNConservator, whether it’s creating an account, naming a designated agent, preparing an Inventory, entering accounting data or completing an annual or final account, please feel free to reach out to Cindi Spence at Spence Legal Services, (763) 682-2247.

 

Aging Data Profiles of Minnesota’s Population

The Minnesota Department of Human Services’ website has a very cool new tool that provides demographic and service data for regional, statewide and county levels.

The profiles include the following demographic and service data points. Each point is a separate tab on the dashboard:

  • AGE – total population by age
  • DIVERSITY – total population by race and ethnicity
  • LIVING ALONE – persons age 65+ living alone
  • POVERTY – persons age 65+ in poverty
  • DEPENDENCY – old-age dependency ratio
  • CAREGIVER – family caregiver ratio
  • SPENDING – long-term services and supports expenditures
  • HIGHER NEEDS – persons served with higher needs
  • UTILIZATION – nursing home bed utilization

Here’s the link to the Minnesota Department of Human Services Aging Data Profiles dashboard.