You arrive at the hospital and your loved one has had a stroke, they are having difficulty talking and it is unlikely that they are able to write their name. What are supposed to do? If you are lucky your loved one has met with an attorney and has done comprehensive estate planning which includes planning not just for what happens when you die but also what happens if you have a stroke. Hopefully, you are able to find the estate planning documents and in the notebook or folder you find a Financial Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive and their Trust. The Financial Power of Attorney will let you access any bank accounts that are NOT in their Trust to pay their bills, the Health Care Directive will allow you to make decisions about their care and hopefully it will provide you with guidance as to what they would want you to do. If you are the successor Trustee you will need to look at the trust and find out what it says about how one Trustee is removed so you can replace your loved one as Trustee. Most Trusts require TWO doctors to declare incapacity, so you will need to get these letters. Your duties as Trustee and Agent under power of attorney require you to act as a Fiduciary so you may want to get advice from an Elder Law Attorney who can advise you as to your obligations and the options available to pay for care. An Elder Law Attorney can help you make sure that your loved one is able to access Medi-Cal or Veteran’s Benefits available to pay for care.

Martha Jo Patterson is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Martha Jo has helped hundreds of families in Los Angeles and Orange County with Medi-Cal Planning, Veteran’s Benefits, Estate Planning, and Planning for Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Martha Jo is a past president of Southern California NAELA, Southern California Council of Elder Law Attorneys, she is an author of two books “What If” and “Nursing Home Dilemma: How to Protect Your Loved One While Preserving Your Assets”, she is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar, Southern California Chapter of NAELA (past president), National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Southern California Council of Elder Law Attorneys (past president), on the LRS Panel for CANHR, and she serves as a PVP Attorney for the Los Angeles Superior Court. Attorneys who are Certified as Elder Law Attorneys by the National Elder Law Foundation are best able to help families of loved ones with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, people with disabilities and other special needs. Martha Jo Patterson has been quoted in Reuters.