Elder Law Services For Aging Clients & Their Loved Ones
We are a greying society. Our life expectancies continue to rise, and with longer life comes both legal and practical issues which need to be addressed by appropriate planning for the protection of the aging client, the client’s family and loved ones.
Elder law focuses on protecting the rights and interests of older individuals.
Our Elder planning and mediation practice provides the aging client an active voice, addressing issues such as caregiving, living arrangements, financial planning, medical decisions, communication, driving, conservatorships, and independence, to name a few.
It is often necessary to take a more holistic and comprehensive approach regarding the specific needs of aging clients. Our elder planning attorneys work to understand the totality of our client’s personal, medical, family, financial and other needs, developing plans for the aging client, and putting the plan into action. While you cannot always foresee what will happen in the future, you can take steps to be prepared.
We work together to prepare essential documents, such as a Last Will & Testament, or Power of Attorney, and update documents you have neglected to keep current. Whether it is a power of attorney, living will, healthcare proxy, formal documentation nominating a future conservator, or a caregiver’s service agreement, it is necessary to have the appropriate documentation prepared, to have key people know where to find the documents and to have your current wishes known. Some of the most common documents a client need include:
- Last Will & Testament – A Will is an essential document to ensuring that your decisions are honored after you pass away. You’ll need to select decision-makers, people who will act as executor.
- Health Care Directives – Health care decision making is an important part of estate planning. Having documents in place in advance of any incapacity or emergency ensures that you have a voice in your own health care decision-making for as long as possible. The most common types of directives are the health care agent (formerly health care power of attorney), health care representative and living will. Health Care Directives allow you to select a health care representative to communicate your health care wishes in the event of incapacity. If you don’t have a representative, it is possible that the probate court may have to appoint a conservator to make health care decisions along with other personal decisions for you.
- Power of Attorney – Ensuring that if you become mentally or physically disabled your assets can be accessed and managed with the least expense and without court intervention is by having a power of attorney.
You need to make smart decisions on how to protect your assets, and how your affairs will be handled if you become incapacitated or when you pass away. These include deciding who you want to manage you assets and finances, who will take charge of your medical, health and care decisions, and who will take the responsibility of carrying out your final wishes.
Our elder planning attorneys work with our clients in order to establish the best plan for effective counsel and representation that is tailored to the needs of the client and having the client be in a position to make educated and informed decisions.
Through our experience, we also have found that many of the issues faced by aging clients have practical, emotional, familial and other aspects which cannot be addressed through the traditional legal system but which cannot be ignored or otherwise brushed aside.
A conservatorship is a legal proceeding wherein a petition is filed in court to request that a conservator be appointed for an individual. There must also be a recently dated physical examination accompanied by a doctor’s report. A conservator, similar to a guardian who is responsible for the individual’s personal and financial affairs, can be appointed by the court. A conservator of the person is appointed if the individual’s decision-making ability is diminished to the extent that they are at risk of endangering their personal health, safety or welfare or that of others. A conservator of the property is appointed if the individual’s decision-making ability is diminished to the extent that their financial assets are at risk of being dissipated or improperly managed. The conservator will have ongoing duties to report to the probate court periodically regarding the conserved person’s health and finances.
Our Elder Mediation and Shared Family Decision Making services facilitate the open communication and resolution of the issues impacting the aging client, the client’s family, loved ones and caregivers. By openly addressing and seeking to resolve issues within a mediation setting, utilizing a holistic approach, the family can avoid creating schisms that may never heal.