Legal aid available to W.Va. seniors
It may be expected or unexpected, but many will end up living alone in their later years.
If you already live alone or know it is likely to happen at some point, thinking ahead and making strong connections with those who can help you may be the way to continue to live independently as long as possible.
Having medical and financial powers of attorney (also called POA) signed to allow individuals to help when you can’t handle these tasks for yourself can be part of the process of living independently.
To the greatest extent possible, discuss your medical and financial preferences with the person you have named in the POA and even list your choices in written form. One conversation is probably not enough to make someone comfortable knowing how to make the best decisions for you, and your wishes may change over time, too.
If things don’t go well, you can revoke such powers of attorney as long as you have the mental capacity to make such a decision.
At any time, you have the legal right to ask for a listing of expenses and accounts from the person you name as your agent in your financial power of attorney.
You can appoint another person to have the authority to receive periodic financial accountings from your POA, too. That adds an extra layer of protection from having your funds accidentally or intentionally mishandled.
Taking care of other legal matters, such a signing your will and advance directives on end-of-life medical issues (including a living will) can give you peace of mind when there is not a spouse. You can also change these documents at any time as long as you have the mental capacity to do so.
Flexibility can be a life-saver as these changes come your way.
We never know what we will need assistance with. You might know someone who can help with financial tasks, daily efforts around the house, getting to medical appointments, driving and its responsibilities, and miscellaneous tasks for everyday living.
Different individuals can help with different tasks, of course.
It may help to talk to others now who are living alone about how to handle these efforts. Asking for help can be productive but always be careful whom you trust.
While this can seem overwhelming at first, all of the decisions don’t have to be made immediately. But planning for these types of changes over time helps leave less to chance and helps you retain your ability to control your own situation.
More information about the types of planning involved in staying independent — living solo — is available at https://seniorlegalaid.net.
The West Virginia Senior Legal Aid program can help those age 60 and older with answers to their legal questions. Call 800-229-5068 to speak with the staff attorney at no charge.
Deb Miller, JD