Are you an older adult without adult children or any extended family to oversee your care as you age? Are you concerned about someone else in your circle of friends who just doesn’t have that needed advocate?
There is a new term being circulated called, the “Elder Orphan.” An Elder Orphan is an older adult without adult children to make decisions, monitor well-being and advocate for him or herself should capacity be lost from a progressive illness like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.
It is imperative that those of you who fall into this category make your values, wishes and desired options known to a responsible party before a health crisis. Often your estate attorney will ask you who you want to make decisions for you should you lose capacity and who you would want to manage your financial resources as well.
If you have not made plans for yourself and don’t have a family advocate who has legal powers, you could find yourself hospitalized and then have the public office of conservatorship or guardianship take over your affairs, making decisions for you based on “safety” and not on your wishes and wants.
Choosing the right advocates to make decisions for you is very important. You can have a bank become the trustee of your estate; most Estate and Elder Law attorneys will know certain banks or trust companies that excel in giving good oversight. Professional Care Managers have great relationships with many major banks and can make recommendations as well.
Locating a private fiduciary that is licensed and experienced is your best bet – and if that referral is from a trusted professional source rather than an organizational list, you will probably have an even better experience.
About twenty years ago, a senior who had a special needs son came to me because she felt she had no one to care for her son after she died. At that time, I did hold legal powers for my clients, so I became a co-conservator with her for her son. I no longer do that, but I do partner with those who do.
The son needed supervision 24/7 and coordination with day programs and medical providers. She had a trust and a special needs trust for his needs. She was very specific on what she wanted to be done, down to the smallest detail of food for dinner and where his clothing should be purchased. These items are in my records. As a result, when she died over five years ago, with the support of extended family, a skilled expert Eldercare Care Manager and a good placement, we can now follow every wish to the smallest detail for her. This is because she did excellent planning and found a professional to help her, years before a need. Today, everything she wanted is being delivered.
If you find yourself as an “Elder Orphan,” have a consultation with a Professional Care Manager to discuss and explore all your options and then take that information with you to your “legal expert” to design your documents around what you desire and who you want to provide care for you.