Tag Archives: Elder Attorney

10 Signs Your Senior May Need In-Home Elder Care

 

in-homeAs your loved one gets older, it may be time to consider some in-home care to help them remain safe in their home. While many people can live in their own home for a long time as they age, there are often signs that it’s time to find help in order to give your loved one the assurance and support they need. If you are wondering whether a loved one needs in-home care or not, it’s time to look for the following signs:

  1. Personal grooming is neglected and your loved one looks more disheveled.
  2. The home is less clean than normal. Basic household chores like laundry and dishes are getting ignored.
  3. Your loved one is losing weight because of a poor diet.
  4. There has been a recent fall or your loved one is afraid to fall while home alone.
  5. You notice that medication is not being taken properly.
  6. Your loved one is no longer active or going out much.
  7. Mail and bills are being ignored and piling up.
  8. You discover that a loved one has become the victim of fraud or has been easily scammed.
  9. It’s become harder to take care of your loved one’s basic needs on your own.
  10. You find your loved one gets confused more easily or appears disoriented.

When you have a loved one who you are concerned about, it’s important to carefully assess their needs. Most people want to stay independent and may try to hide any need for help from family members. Talk with your loved one and begin having the conversation of bringing in a little help to the home. When you have open and honest communication, you’ll have a better chance at keeping your loved one safe. Be reassuring during this conversation about your goals to keep your loved one at home with a little help.

Your loved one needs to feel in control of the situation and may fear being removed from the home if they are honest about their needs. Your loved one can remain at home with significant care, and you need to make sure that this is understood. Keep your loved ones safe by getting them the help they deserve when they are struggling to care for their own needs at home.

Elder Care Resolutions for the New Year

resolutions

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who are raising your own family while providing support for aging parents, the new year can be a great time to reassess. This point in your life will likely be the busiest and most emotionally difficult.

With life pulling you in so many directions as a caregiver and a person, here are a few resolutions you can implement to make the most of the coming year for and your loved one.

1. Spend Quality Time Together. Once you’ve come to the stage where there are caretaking needs for elderly relatives, it sometimes becomes very difficult to enjoy time together because there are so many new responsibilities. Socializing and spending time together can actually improve your elder relative’s health and it also affords you time to create new memories which you’ll cherish.

2. Assess Your Elderly Loved One’s Home Situation. Whether your relative lives independently, in a care facility, or in your own home, it’s important to assess where they’re living each year. Their health needs may change over time and things that weren’t thought of months ago will be an issue going forward. Take stock of things like their mobility, whether or not they need caregivers at their location, and alternatives for regular support while allowing for as much independence as they are able to have.

3. Review Medical and Dietary Needs. Different aspects of aging can change dietary needs and appetite. Assess whether or not aging relatives are thriving health-wise and determine if they need changes in their care, diet, and hydration. This might include arranging for someone to do the shopping, having Meals on Wheels brought in to assist, or other options. Daily calling services can be arranged to remind elders to drink water, take medication, and move around.

4. Visit an Elder Attorney. Taking care of final affairs can be an emotional process, but it’s important for your elderly relatives to have their legal paperwork in order to better care for their needs and fulfill their wishes. An elder attorney can help you determine what steps to take, depending on the family member’s health and situation. This might include a living trust, power of attorney, or other measures to make sure that there is a family member who can help determine medical and financial decisions in the event that they are no longer able.

5. Take Time for You. With all of the responsibility in caring for your older relatives and your own family, you’re probably not taking as much time as you need to manage your own health. You can’t help anyone else if you’re making yourself sick or wearing yourself down. So take the proper steps to make sure you get the best medical and emotional support you need.

Taking responsibility for the care of elderly family members can be an emotional and exhausting time. For many, it’s also exceptionally rewarding to get to spend the remaining time together.

If you’re interested in more information on elder law to better prepare for the future, contact us today.

5 Best Practices for Organizing Legal Documents
for an Elder

Taking care of an elder often begins with a crisis. Perhaps a stroke leaves an elder family member unable to speak or an injury leaves her unable to provide basic self-care. Unexpectedly, you are responsible for making decisions on your loved one’s behalf and you must do so in a hurry. The sudden responsibility may cause a great deal of anxiety and worry on top of the natural concern for someone close to you.

legal documentsFor this reason, it’s essential that you know where to access important legal documents before such a crisis should occur. Organize documents in advance so that when you do need them, you can find them quickly. Here are our best practices for organizing legal documents for an elder family member. Follow them and you’ll be helping your elder loved one as well as every member of the family.

1. Find the Documents

Discovering where documents are placed is often much easier said than done. If possible, ask your parent or another family where documents are stored. If this isn’t feasible, you’ll need to search for them yourself. Common locations include a safety deposit box, filing cabinet, and freezer. Create a checklist of important paperwork needed and either create a written record of where it is located or, preferably, place all of the paperwork in one location. These documents may include:

  • Legal and health care power of attorney
  • Wills
  • Living wills
  • End-of-life directives, such as Do Not Resuscitate orders
  • Tax returns
  • Savings bonds, stock certificates, and brokerage accounts
  • Military records
  • Birth certificates
  • Trusts
  • Divorce papers
  • Marriage certificates
  • Insurance paperwork

2. Determine a Storage Method

There are several effective ways to store important documents. Carefully consider which would allow you the quickest access to necessary papers while also ensuring your family member’s privacy and safety. Some suggestions include:

Safety deposit box

The only times someone can look at the items inside is during banking hours and access is limited to specific people. However, it becomes problematic if you become incapacitated or leave the area due to vacation.

Home safe

This is a good in-between option; it is extremely convenient and accessible, yet lacks the protection of an in-bank box. Be sure to either bolt down the safe or hide it extremely well. A key should be given to anyone who needs access.

Filing cabinet

While a filing cabinet is easily accessible in an emergency, it lacks the security of other options.

Online document storage

Online storage allows access from any computer with a user id and password. It is very secure and convenient.

3. Eliminate the Unnecessary

Set aside time annually to reduce the document load. Shred, throw away, or delete things that have become untimely.

4. Organize Yourself

Caring for someone else requires you to be organized yourself. The more organized you are, the easier it is to help. Create an online calendar that provides text alerts and emails for reoccurring situations, such as prescription refills, medical appointments, and also one-time events. You can also set most calendars up to remind others, including the person you’re helping.

5. File and Sort According to Your Style

Whether you prefer files to be color-coded, alphabetical, or organized according to topic, be sure to file according to your distinct style. It may be tempting to continue the system that someone else implemented, but that will likely hinder the process of retrieving and safely storing documents.

If you find yourself in the position of caring for an elder, or would like more information about legal services and requirements, please contact us for assistance. For those who have an aging loved one, it’s very common to visit a Massachusetts elder law attorney to establish power of attorney. For help doing so, we invite you to a free consultation.

Estate Planning Resource Roundup

According to the American Bar Association, 55 percent of Americans die without a will or estate planning documents in place. Estate planning can be a daunting task, but a qualified estate planning attorney can break down the process into doable steps for you and your family. Whether you’re a parent with young children, newly married and yet to start a family, or a senior with adult children, the time to begin the process of estate planning is now.

resource roundup

Here’s a roundup of some resources that will help you get started. We’re standing by to help you navigate and complete this process. Today is a great day to contact us and we’ll work with you every step of the way.

Getting Your Affairs in Order: Tips to Make Your Estate Planning a Smooth Process

What Is the Difference between Personal Property and Real Property?

The Dangers of a Do-It-Yourself Will

American Bar Association Estate Planning Overview

Kiplinger Estate Planning Special Report

Ten Reasons to Consult an Estate Planning Attorney

Helping your elderly parents face the financial and health-related challenges that come with growing older can put quite a strain on your other responsibilities. Enlisting the help of the right professionals leaves you with more time to spend with your family. Since there are complex state and federal regulations regarding wills and other paperwork necessary for settling an estate, it is best to consult an experienced estate planning attorney. There are ten specific benefits to working with an elder lawyer.

1. Ensure the last will and testament of your parent or relative is legally binding and properly designated.

2. Designate a power of attorney contract to ensure the right person is responsible for making medical and financial decisions if the person becomes incapacitated.

3. Create a living will. Living wills help your elderly relatives make their wishes clear and save you a lot of stress when the time comes for difficult decisions.

4. Avoid mistakes. A practicing estate planning lawyer can craft a strong will that covers all the bases, while most packages designed to help you do it yourself lack coverage of crucial areas.

5. Handle any business or investment transfers smoothly and without delays.

6. Address complex situations where blended or extended families are involved. Planning the estate is much more complicated if your elderly relatives have had more than one marriage.

7. Minimize the taxes heirs will need to pay by choosing the right type of trust.

8. Update and change any existing wills and estate paperwork. Changing laws and family structures make old agreements insufficient very quickly.

9. Take care of disabled family members for their rest of their life. A good probate lawyer can help craft a plan that ensures that the people in your family with special needs never go without support.

10. Make the process easier. Planning an estate is stressful for both the elderly and their helpers, but an experienced professional helps.

The Dangers of a Do-it-Yourself Last Will

do-it-yourself-last-willA do-it-yourself will sounds like a simple and inexpensive way to let your loved ones know your wishes in the event of your death. Doing your own will at home, however, may end up leading to avoidable problems such as taxation and court battles. Do-it-yourself wills may seem like a good deal, but the money put out later could cost a lot more than using an estate planning lawyer to draw up your documents.

Do-it-yourself wills may prove to be invalid if you do not follow all state and federal laws. For instance, if you used a witness with an invested interest in your estate, the will may not hold up in court. It must also be proven that the signatures found on the will were properly witnessed. Also, if the original will can’t be produced, your wishes may not be followed. An estate planning lawyer typically stores your will in a fireproof location to ensure the original can be produced in court. An estate planner could also be called into court and testify about the validity about the claims included in the will.

The language used in the will must be perfect for claims to be valid. As an example, a court could interpret the wording wrong and subject your assets to costly estate taxes. Estate taxes can deplete the funds you leave behind for your beneficiaries. Instead, meet with an estate planning attorney to go over the language and inclusions of your documents to prevent will contests. Otherwise, your family may then be forced into a legal battle and be forced to pay an exorbitant amount of court and probate lawyer fees.

The biggest downfall of a do-it-yourself-will package? You don’t receive personalized advice from an estate planning attorney. The will software packages can provide general advice, but won’t be helpful if you have a more unique situation. Will software packages are not likely to provide you with guidelines on how to handle domestic partnerships, children from other marriages, disinherited children or special needs children. As an example, a stepfather who claims in his do-it-yourself will to leave all his assets to his children may find his stepchildren cut out of any inheritance money he meant for them. Also, living trusts and power of attorney are not usually properly handled in online will programs. In these cases, set up a consultation with a living trust attorney.

Do-it-yourself will software packages may require you to fix errors later on. Get your will right the first time by meeting with a licensed and professional estate planning attorney. Reduce family conflict by clearly stating your wishes and keeping the proper documentation stored with a lawyer. The Law offices of Adam Tobin is waiting to hear from you to create your legal and valid last will and testament.

Have You Heard? New Protections Under the Elder Justice Act

Did you know that new legislation was signed into law last year that is designed to protect America’s senior citizens from abuse?  The Elder Justice Act, signed by President Obama in March of 2010, is a major step towards preventing abuse of the elderly.  This is the first time that such efforts have been officially coordinated at the federal level.

A Brief Overview of the Elder Justice Act

  • Elder Justice ActWithin the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, there will now be Elder Justice Coordinating Council (EJCC) which will oversee coordination of elder abuse issues throughout the government.
  • An Advisory Board to the EJCC, comprised of experts on elderly abuse and exploitation, will be formed to advice the council and compile a yearly report on elderly abuse with recommendations for governments at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • Allows for grants to long term care facilities to ensure that they have sufficient training and knowledge on elderly abuse issues and how to combat and prevent abuse of senior citizens.
  • Increased coordination among long term care facilities, the government, and elderly abuse officials at all levels.

In short, the act will help unify a system of preventing elderly abuse nationwide. This is a huge step in the fight to prevent the abuse and exploitation of America’s senior citizens.

If you or someone you know would like information on elder abuse, nursing home abuse, or estate planning, please contact the Law Offices of Adam J. Tobin today.

Choosing a Nursing Home

Whether for yourself or a loved one, choosing a nursing home is an important and often difficult decision. Thoroughly discuss the issue of nursing home living with the individual involved and their personal physician.  It is critical to consider the travel abilities of those who will be visting the nursing home.  The first narrowing of your search can be base on these limits.

Nursing Home Tour

1. Research and Prepare for Nursing Home Visits

  • Schedule  appointments for informational meetings and tours of nursing homes through the homes’ admissions representatives. It is important to acquire copies of the facility’s brochure, admissions policies, and the resident’s bill of rights.
  • Receive additional information by contacting the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and asking to speak with the ombudsman who represents the nursing homes that you are interested in.
  • Contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Division of Health Care Quality to get the “Survey Performance Tool for Nursing Homes” or a copy of survey findings and complaint reports for the nursing homes that you are considering.

2. Your Nursing Home Visits

  • Meet with the admissions representative, administrator, or other contact.
  • During your tour of the nursing home, observe and take mental notes about the interactions between staff and residents.
  • Try and speak with the residents and staff about their feelings and experiences.
  • Make observations, and do not be afraid to ask questions.

3. Narrow Your Choices and Make a Selection

  • After eliminating some of your choices, try to re-visit remaining nursing homes at a different time than you visited before.
  • Schedule a meeting with an administrator to discuss specific concerns regarding care needs or personal preferences.
  • Request that you participate in specific care planning sessions and decisions.
  • After selecting, make sure to visit often and take an active role in your loved one’s care.

If you or a loved one would like legal advice regarding estate planning, trusts, or nursing home abuse, please contact The Law Offices of Adam J. Tobin

It’s Never Too Early to Draft a Will: Tips and Information

Estate Planning and Drafting a Will

It’s never an easy topic to address, but if you care about what happens to your assets after death, creating a will is a prudent decision at any age.  Unfortunately, death can be unexpected and untimely; it is never too early to draft a will.

Last Will and TestamentDo I need a Lawyer to draft a will?

Today there are multiple websites and online providers of wills, while potentially cheaper than working with an attorney, using online avenues to create your will poses some serious risks.  Wills generated online or by programs are much lower quality overall.  They may not take differences in probate law among states into account, which could void your will.   If you have assets worth creating a will, you probably have enough money to make paying the little bit extra to work with an attorney worth it.

How much are standard attorney fees to create a will?

Fees vary, but it should not be difficult to find a qualified lawyer who will work with you to draft a will for only a few hundred dollars.  Besides probably having more expertise than a website or program, lawyers wish to keep their bar license and are therefore motivated to ensure that you receive a high-quality thorough document.  Additionally, the personal interaction is always a plus when creating a document that is so important to your personal life.

Lawyers can help fill major gaps in your legal knowledge and correct false assumptions that many people make.  For example, wills do not generally govern a person’s retirement account, which is usually someone’s most valuable asset.  There is a completely different set of rules that governs what happens to those assets.  However, if you work with an attorney to create your estate plan, you will have much more control over factors such as these, factors that you may have overlooked otherwise.

It’s as easy as asking a lawyer!  If you would like information or assistance with estate planning, contact The Law Offices of Adam J. Tobin today!

Choosing a Trustee

Creating a trust can be important for several reasons – a few of which include avoiding probate, protecting assets, and protecting minor children. However, choosing someone as your trustee can be a difficult decision. You must choose someone you trust to make responsible decisions regarding your assets should you become incapacitated and unable to do so yourself. Here are a few of the different types of trustees you may choose to appoint:

Family Trustee

In many cases a family member, such as an adult child, is chosen as one’s trustee. Typically, there is a high level of trust for family members and oftentimes adult children are already responsible for helping out with many financial decisions. Usually a family member will also carry out the duties as a trustee for little or no compensation which can make this a very appealing option.

Co-trusteesLiving Trusts

However, when appointing a family trustee there may be reasons to also designate a “co-trustee.” For instance, if you have any feeling that a single trustee might not consistently make the best decisions possible it might be a good idea to appoint a co-trustee to balance the situation. In this case two signatures must be obtained whenever a decision is made. While this can be a bit burdensome, having a co-trustee can often be a way to ensure that responsible action is taken.

Corporate Trustee

Depending on your situation it may be best to choose an outside party as a trustee. Although this is generally a more expensive option than choosing a family member, appointing a corporate trustee ensures that professional and impartial decisions are made. This option also provides longevity – a corporate trustee is more likely to be around in 25 years, whereas a family member may not.

When creating a living trust there are several options available in deciding who will be your trustee. You must evaluate your individual situation to decide what would make the most sense for you. For help with this process contact Living Trust Attorney Adam J. Tobin today!