Elder Law - An Overview
As the baby boomer generation gets older, aging Americans and their families increasingly encounter legal and practical concerns in caring for elderly loved ones. An attorney experienced in elder law matters can assist clients in planning for the future through powers of attorney and advance directives to ensure that proper medical treatment is provided. An attorney also can advise on long-term care insurance or other funding options that foster the most independence and security for the many elders who wish to remain in their homes.
Guardianships and Conservatorships
When symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, dementia or physical disabilities arise, common tasks such as brushing one's teeth, dressing, feeding oneself and bathing can become extremely difficult. Our loved ones may become forgetful or easily confused. A guardianship or conservatorship may be one way to help you care for your loved one. Through a guardianship or conservatorship, you can become the court-ordered guardian or conservator to ensure that your loved one receives adequate personal care or to handle your loved one's financial matters. As the person responsible for ensuring your loved one's care, you can maximize your loved one's quality of life through a support network of qualified professionals, friends and family.
Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives
Sound planning beforehand allows elders to ensure that their needs are met and their wishes are carried out with regard to future financial matters and medical treatment, even if they are unable to communicate their desires at the time those decisions need to be made. Powers of attorney and advance directives allow a person to designate an agent to carry out their wishes as an alternative to allowing a judge to select a guardian or conservator. In a written document, each person may communicate to the agent their financial goals and decisions, as well as outlining medical procedures or life-sustaining techniques that may be performed in the future. These directions allow the agent to make decisions according to the elder's wishes, even if he or she is unable to communicate with the agent at the time.
Planning for Long-Term Care
While making financial and medical plans is extremely important, so too is providing for long-term care. Many people overlook the financial, medical and personal aspects of long-term care planning until it is too late. If you develop a serious mental or physical disability requiring long-term care, you will want to have a long-term care plan. Health care costs in the United States are expensive and continue to rise. Proper long-term care planning now will allow you to pay for these rising costs without exhausting your life's savings. A skilled elder law attorney can counsel you on long-term care insurance, Medicare and Medicaid eligibility and other options. With proper planning, you can choose the long-term care option that best fits your needs.
Help for Families of Elder Law Clients
If you are caring for an elder loved one, you may find it difficult to juggle your family, work and caretaking needs. Caring for another is often time consuming, expensive, and physically and mentally draining. When added to your job, family and social obligations, your caregiver role may feel overwhelming. You are not alone, however. Millions of Americans currently care for an elder loved one. An experienced elder law attorney who has counseled others in your position can draw on experience to provide you the guidance, support and encouragement you need to care for your loved one.
Speak to an Elder Law Attorney
The security derived from planning for your retirement including handling your financial, medical and long-term care decisions is without a price. Contact an experienced elder law attorney for guidance. Taking the necessary steps now can reduce financial hardship and stress for you and your loved ones in the future.
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