NH Elder Law and Estate Planning

Caring From Far Away

Distance separates many of us from those we care about.  And care for.  You may wish you were closer, but there is still much you can do to help from far away.


Financial Issues

If you would like to help by taking over the bill paying and other matters which may have become a burden, your loved one could execute a durable comprehensive power of attorney, giving you authority to handle financial matters.  These might include banking, investing, social security matters, tax matters, etc.  It is best to be named on individual accounts as "POA."  Social Security and the IRS will request that you complete their specific paperwork before you will be authorized to act on another's behalf.  Many insurance companies and other institutions will also have their own forms.   Utilities and vendors will gladly change the mailing address for bills so that you will receive them directly.   If there is a home or other real estate, ensure that the power of attorney specifically gives authority to buy and sell real estate and to execute all relevant documents.  If you are involved in the sale of real estate, be sure the real estate agent has a copy of the power of attorney document.  If you will be signing the deed on another's behalf, the original power of attorney document must be filed at the Registry of Deeds.  It will be returned to you - but if your loved one has lost the mental capacity to legally execute documents - understand how important it is for you to get the original document back.  The attorney or closing agent should be made aware of this as well. 


Medical Issues

If you are named as agent under a health care power of attorney, be sure that all relevant telephone numbers are on file with the physician and local hospital.  Your loved one should carry a card at all times that states that a health care power of attorney (and/or living will) has been executed, and includes all relevant contact information.  You should make a point of visiting with the physician together, to discuss any issues which might arise while acting as agent.  This dialogue is critical and should be ongoing.  The New Hampshire Bar Association has published a helpful guide for agents under the health care power of attorney:  Making Medical Decisions for Someone Else.

The financial power of attorney should include language similar to the following which authorizes you to have access to health records. 

In accordance with the Health Care Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-191), 45 CFR Sections 160 and 164 ("HIPAA"), I authorize my agent to act as my Personal Representative solely for the purpose of obtaining, receiving and signing any authorization for the release of any and all Protected Health Information related to my health care and related to payments in regard to such health care.

If desired, a release may be executed and placed in the physicians file, indicating that he or she may speak with you about your loved one's personal medical issues.  Most physicians will arrange for conference calls during office visits so that you can participate in the discussion.  An extra set of ears is usually comforting.  For those suffering from the early signs of dementia, it is even more important that someone else understands the physician's concerns or directives.

Take the time to go over medical insurance coverage together.  Choosing Medigap policies can be overwhelming.  Prescription plans are mind boggling.  Ensure that the coverage is a good fit.  Contact Medicare and the Medigap providers and file the necessary paperwork which will allow you to handle these matters if necessary.  For a good discussion of Medicare and Medigap visit

If your loved one resides in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or similar residential community, speak with the administration to ensure that they have all necessary documentation which will allow them to discuss his or her personal matters, medical care,  or financial matters.

 

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Copyright 2007
Judith Fox
8 Farmwood Rd. Concord, NH 03301
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