Make funds accessible in case you are incapacitated

December 04, 2005|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Many single seniors today are financially secure. Their wills are signed, and they have insurance for any medical crisis.

But what if an emergency or injury leaves you incapacitated? Large funds and assets can end up sitting in accounts, inaccessible.

Bills must still be paid for utilities and groceries and other necessities. Money could also be needed for extra medical services, such as lengthy hospital stays or home care.

Moreover, family members could have to spend thousands of dollars in airline tickets to visit you and handle your affairs. These bills can quickly become overwhelming.

Your loved ones can eventually get access to your money, but it can be a tedious and exhausting process, particularly during a stressful time.

So before you face a medical emergency, work out how bills are going to be paid if you are too ill or injured to access your accounts.

One option is to establish a joint checking account or a joint credit card with one of your children (but be careful of inheritance issues, as Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine reported, since the money in the checking account will be passed directly to that child if you die).

Also, consult with your lawyer about giving one of your children a power of attorney. This will give him or her legal authority to carry out financial transactions.

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