April 20, 2020

Having these documents in order will help make caregiving easier for the responsible family member.


As a caregiver, you are responsible for taking care of your elderly loved one. This includes helping with daily living activities like eating, bathing, dressing and doing household chores. But caregivers should also be sure to have in place legal documents important to the lifelong care of the elder. Having access to them will help make caregiving easier.

The most common legal documents that every caregiver should have are:

1. A Will

A will is one of the most important legal documents that family caregivers should have. It should lay out exactly what the senior wants to do with his or her property, including how and when assets will be distributed among heirs.

2. Advance Health Care Plan

This is a document that tells your doctor what healthcare you want and will only be used if you get too sick to make decisions. The plan details what kind of care you want and don’t want. An advance care plan helps to solve problems you can see coming.

3. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

This important legal document gives the person designated as your agent the power to make healthcare decision for you. This legal document takes effect when a person becomes mentally incapacitated and is unable to decide for himself. The agent must act consistently with your desires as stated in the document.

4. Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

This document allows a family caregiver to manage a loved one’s finances, including having access to bank accounts, properties and other assets. This takes effect when a loved one becomes incapacitated and no longer able to pay the bills, file tax returns, manage investments and make other important financial decisions. Be sure to have this document notarized or it won’t be valid.


Source: This post courtesy of Vanderbilt Health Plus, which provides resources to support the health of Vanderbilt faculty & staff.


The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care, and has a brand-new free guide specific to COVID-19 and additional resources.

Find resources here