The MetLife Mature Market Institute has updated its Since You Care® guide entitled, Legal Matters. The guide contains useful information about aging-related legal matters, health care planning, and financial decisions for older Americans and those who care for them. It is available free to the public.

Legal Matters contains a list of the various legal vehicles recommended for older people, explanations thereof, a resource directory for accessing legal information (including books, publications and Internet sites) and a legal services checklist. The 14-page guide was prepared in cooperation with the National Alliance for Caregiving.

"It’s essential for caregivers to know the state of their family members’ legal affairs and to be secure in the knowledge that key legal decisions have been made and documented before a crisis occurs," said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. "In some instances, older adults are reluctant to share financial and legal information with adult children. In such cases, it might be advisable that they consult with a neutral third party, such as an attorney, a qualified financial advisor, social worker or trusted friend to address legal issues and then have an attorney prepare the proper documents so that they will be accessible to family members in an emergency."

This Since You Care guide provides an overview of the legal subjects that are important to older people and their caregivers, providing background so they can pursue them in more detail. Topics include:

  • Wills – setting up trusts for dependents, division of assets, charitable gifts, executors and tax considerations.
  • Managing Financial Affairs – establishing and choosing a Power of Attorney for financial and health care matters.
  • Use of Trusts – choosing a trustee and distinguishing the various types of trusts.
  • Managing Health Care Matters – writing a living will and/or medical Power of Attorney.
  • Guardianship/Conservators – a person appointed by the court to decide the financial and/or personal matters for individuals who are unable to manage their own affairs.

The Legal Matters guide recommends that family members learn what is important to their loved ones in making financial and health care decisions and to help them implement a plan that will ensure their wishes are carried out.

"Dealing with a loved one’s personal legal issues may not be easy," said Dr. Timmermann. "Yet, however difficult, effective planning will allow individuals to have their say about critical issues that may arise at a time when they are unable to express their wishes."

The Since You Care publications draw from the experience of MetLife’s Care Coordinators who are available to MetLife’s long-term care insurance customers and their caregivers, to help identify and resolve caregiving questions and concerns through counseling and referral.

About the National Alliance for Caregiving 
The National Alliance for Caregiving is a non-profit coalition of 38 national organizations that focus on issues of family caregiving. The Alliance was created to conduct research, do policy analysis, develop national programs and increase public awareness of family caregiving issues.

About the MetLife Mature Market Institute 
Staffed by gerontologists, the MetLife Mature Market Institute, part of the company’s Retirement Strategies Group, has been providing research, knowledge management, education, and policy support for over ten years to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, its corporate customers, and business partners. MetLife, a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), is celebrating 140 years and is a leading provider of insurance and financial services to individual and institutional customers.

For a free copy of the Since You Care guide, Legal Matters, please write to the MetLife Mature Market Institute, 57 Greens Farms Road, Westport, CT 06880, call (203) 221-6580, e-mail:, or download it at under ‘What’s New.’


Karen Eldred
Shalana Morris