Posted: April 10, 2019
When you’re caring for an aging loved one, your top priority is probably keeping them safe. While you’re often focused on their physical safety, you should be aware that elders are vulnerable to many non-physical dangers, too, including financial exploitation. Elder law is the legal discipline dedicated to safeguarding seniors’ financial and long-term care best interests, so they won’t be taken advantage of.
Clients often consult elder law lawyers for peace of mind – they want to know their retirement years will proceed according to their wishes. This includes long-term care planning that specifies how an older adult’s needs can be met when they can no longer able to live independently, whether in a community setting or using in-home care, and how their expenses will be paid.
Older adults also want to ensure that if they become physically or mentally incapacitated, their wishes relating to end-of-life issues will be carried out. Elder law attorneys help clients secure legally binding medical and financial powers of attorney.
These documents specify the individual(s) – agent(s) – a senior chooses to make medical and financial decisions on his or her behalf. An elder law attorney also drafts living wills, which specify when life-sustaining medical procedures should be ended, do not resuscitate orders, and medical orders for scope of treatment forms (a doctor’s medical order directing end-of-life treatment.)
Without these legal protections, a court-appointed guardian and conservator will make these highly personal healthcare and financial decisions.
Elder law attorneys also help seniors create detailed estate plans, including wills and trusts, that specify how they want their assets distributed after they die. They also organize assets to minimize estate taxes. Estate plans help ensure that seniors have the final say in how their assets are distributed after they die, and that their designated heirs retain as much of the estate as possible.
While estate plans provide a level of protection against financial exploitation, unscrupulous individuals prey on seniors in many ways, including withdrawing funds using their ATM card, convincing them to change their will or add them to a bank signature card. Elder law attorneys can advise you if you suspect an aging relative is being financially exploited.
Just as it’s important to know your options for wills, taxes, advanced directives, and the cost of long-term care, we’d love to help you understand your senior living options, when living at home becomes too challenging. Just contact us today.