A Guide to Elder Care Law
What is Elder Law?
Elder law is focused on addressing the issues faced by people over the age of 55 and their families. The practice of elder law involves preparing each client to deal with the complex issues that arise as we grow older. There are also many legal options available to manage future age-related mental or physical disabilities-that are mentioned in this guide to elder care law. In order to accomplish your goals, an attorney will collaborate with the medical, long-term care, and finance professionals you have employed. Elder law addresses your needs in:
- Probate and Estate Administration
- Estate Planning
- Wills and Testamentary Trusts
- Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts
- Living Trusts
- Durable Powers of Attorney or Health Proxies
- Guardianships for Minors or for Incapacitated Adults
- Living Wills or Health Directives
- Asset Management
- Contract Review
- Medicaid Assistance
- Real Estate Issues
- Retirement Planning
Common Misconceptions Regarding Elder Law
It is a common misconception that guardianship is a simple process that simply involves a family member asking a doctor to be appointed as guardian. In reality, establishing guardianship involves a judicial procedure subject to court-related costs and time delays. You should expect that the process will take 8 to 10 weeks. The Court will generally appoint an attorney to represent the subject, often costing the subject many thousands of dollars. Family doctors do not appoint guardians but can provide evidence of declining health. You can usually avoid the process of appointing a guardian with a properly executed Health Care Power of Attorney.
It is a common misconception that family members can write checks and make use of other financial resources when a relative becomes mentally or physically disabled. In reality, family members do not have access to financial resources that are not jointly held. In such cases, you must obtain written authorization, called a durable power of attorney. If a Power of Attorney was not executed while the aging relative was competent than the court may appoint a guardian or conservator, potentially costing the family thousands of dollars. This is one of the most important parts our guide to elder care law has to offer.
It is a common misconception that planning for an age-related mental disability can be done at any time, even if the person is in the hospital. In reality, only an individual who is mentally competent to prepare, sign, and understand a document can institute a plan. If the individual is not competent long enough to execute his wishes a court-appointed guardian may be necessary.
It is a common misconception that adult children can make final decisions when their parents are not longer capable without a special grant of permission. In reality, adult children, like other relatives cannot automatically assume the right to make financial and medical decisions for parents. In order to act on behalf of a parent, you must designate a power of attorney.
Knowledge of intentions:
It is a common misconception that children know what is best for a parent with declining health. In reality, children are often unaware of their parent’s thoughts on particular health and financial decisions. Children often live a considerable distance from parents and are unaware of the doctors, attorneys, and accountants active in a parent’s life.
Contact our DC Law Office for More Information
For more information relating to a guide to elder care law please contact Antonoplos & Associates at 202-803-5676. You can also directly schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.