Tag Archives: Elder Law Attorney

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.

Holiday Tips for Elders and Caregivers

holiday tips

Whether you’re decorating a Christmas tree, lighting the menorah, or giving to charity, the holiday season can be filled with mixed emotions. For elders, this is particularly true. While it seems that everyone else is rejoicing, many older people can feel isolated, sad, and lonely. Add in the stress of trying to find gifts within a limited budget and with limited mobility or energy and the challenges are plenty.

As a caretaker of an older person, you are in an optimum position to help. Sure, you are contending with your own stresses and challenges. Fortunately, the ways you can help your loved one are also apt to reduce your ever-growing to-do list. Here are four tips to help simplify the season and stave off the depression that can be common this time of year.

Know When to Stop

Be reasonable with your schedule. Everything doesn’t need to be done in one day. When you stretch special events out, not only do you reduce the amount of stress but you also provide something to look forward to. Activities that seem trivial to you can bring joy and serve as a helpful distraction for someone else.

Be Inclusive

If your senior is facing physical or mobility challenges that make it difficult to participate in traditional activities, include them in festivities in alternative ways. Suggest that they supervise the decorating of the tree by letting others know where they’d like certain ornaments. Wen wrapping presents, encourage the older person to choose the wrapping paper. Consider hiring a home health aide to escort your loved one to a family gathering or favorite event.

Listen

Sometimes this is easier said than done. Listen with an open ear, even if it means hearing about sad or angry emotions. Remember that this time of year is often one for reflection. Avoid suggesting that someone snap out of it or quit complaining as they discuss their worries. They can’t. Acknowledge memories with a project or gift to memorialize someone who has passed away. This can be done by creating a scrapbook of old photos or playing music that is mindful of that person. “Leading authorities have observed that memory and ‘life review’ are important parts of the aging process,” explains Barry Lebowitz, Ph.D., deputy director of UCSD’s Stein Institute for Research on Aging.

Stay Connected

Staying socially connected to others is especially important at Christmas time. Loneliness is a major cause of depression and it is particularly common around holidays. Reach out to your loved one. Often, the only holiday cards that older people receive carry notes of recent deaths and tragedies. Send a card with positive messages. Call periodically or stop by for a visit, if possible.

Caring for an older person is difficult no matter what time of year. Combined with the stress of the holidays, it can be especially crucial to find ways to not only ease tension for the senior in your life but for yourself as well. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, keep in mind the importance of staying sensitive and loving.

MEDCottage Offers New Elder Housing Option

medcottage

If you’re one of the more than 34 million Americans who’ve been caring for aging adults, you know how difficult this family dynamic can be. There are issues you might need a living trust attorney or elder law attorney to help you navigate, such as your parents’ financial health. You may also find yourself in a situation where your parent is independent but can no longer live completely independently.

If you’re not comfortable with the option of a nursing home but don’t have the room to move parents into your own home, this can be an exceptionally stressful situation. Even if they live nearby, aging relatives may not be able to manage on their own, especially if they are coping with medical conditions. One newer solution is the MEDCottage, sometimes referred to as the Granny Pod.

What is a MEDCottage?

The MEDCottage is today’s answer to the guest house or in-law apartment of the past. In many homes generations ago, families created an in-law apartment for older parents. Or, if they had enough property, they might have had a guest house that elder family members lived in. Many families today might not have those options, but a MEDCottage can offer a great solution.

Also known as a Granny Pod, a MEDCottage is a prefabricated small house that you can install on your own property. The MEDCottage can be decorated to suit the elder who will reside there and it offers instant access to your loved one while still offering privacy to both the elderly relative and the family in the main home. Self-described as “an affordable alternative to nursing homes,” a MEDCottage is designed to be a hospital room combined with a living area complete with a kitchenette.

Benefits to the MEDCottage

  • Proximity to Elderly Relative. Because the Granny Pod can be installed right on your property, you’re never in a situation where your relative is too far away to visit or check in on.
  • Medically Equipped. These structures are equipped with the safety and medical features to meet your loved one’s needs.
  • Maintained Independence. For relatives who can no longer live completely on their own but who value their privacy, the Granny Pod can provide the best alternative to a nursing home or moving into an adult child’s home.

If you’re currently struggling with ways to best meet your elderly parent’s needs without relying on a care facility, a MEDCottage might be worth investigating as a housing option.

Three Reasons to Have a Health Care Proxy

A health care proxy is a legal document that gives another person the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to make or state your own decisions and wishes. It allows medical professionals to follow the instructions of a third party even if the law would not otherwise allow it.

Sometimes a health care proxy is called a durable medical power of attorney. It is not the same document as a power of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person authority to manage your financial affairs.

We advise including both documents in your estate plan. Let’s take a look at the reasons why you should have a health care proxy.

Ease the Burden for Family or Friends

In advance of a serious injury or illness, you may assume that your family or friends understand your wishes about medical treatment, life support, feeding tubes, and other major procedures. In many instances, however, a person’s wishes may not be known, putting loved ones in the often difficult position of making such decisions for you—or having debates about what you would want. Further, even if they do understand your wishes, your treating doctors may not legally be allowed to follow their instructions. Setting up a health care proxy can eliminate these concerns.

 Give Legal Authority

Spouses or next of kin can generally make medical decisions without a health care proxy, but a more distant family member, friend, or unmarried partner wouldn’t be able to. Under the law, the person named in your health care proxy becomes the medical agent for you, the principal.

Be Prepared in Case of an Emergency

A health care proxy can cover what should happen in a medical crisis such as a sudden illness, car accident, or incapacitating injury. Surgery or other procedures that require anesthesia carry an element of risk. Having a health care proxy in place gives your loved ones a plan to follow in case decisions have to be made in case of an emergency.

Health care proxies are also essential legal documents for the elderly or those suffering long-term illnesses who may be losing mental capacity.

An elder law attorney can help you set up a health care proxy and make it part of your estate planning documents. Contact us today to get started.

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 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!

Why You Should Create an Estate Plan Today

Estate planning is not only for the elderly. Even if you don’t think you have any significant assets to protect, it could be beneficial to consult an estate planning attorney and discuss your options. If you know anyone who has had to deal with the loss of a loved one who didn’t have an estate plan they will probably tell you, in retrospect, that they wish they had made specific arrangements. There’s a reason why people say “Always be prepared!” Here are some major reasons why you should consider creating an estate plan today:

Avoid Probate

The main reason that many people create an estate plan is to avoid probate. Probate is the process of the administration and distribution of the estate of a deceased person. This legal process is typically carried out according to the person’s legal will. However, if the person does not draft a will the probate court will administer the person’s estate according to state statute. As a result of horror stories in the media of families dealing with probate, most people often want to avoid probate at all costs. Creating an estate plan is an effective solution.

Reduce EstateEstate Planning Taxes

Another good reason to consult an estate planning attorney about creating a plan is to reduce estate taxes and/or state inheritance taxes. Depending upon the individual’s situation, the payment of these taxes can account for a significant loss of an estate. Through simple planning you can make estate or inheritance tax much less burdensome or nonexistent.

Avoid Stress

Many times when people have personal experience, or witness someone, go through the process of dealing with the administration of a loved one’s estate they’re more likely to meet with an estate planning lawyer. Not having a plan in case you become mentally incapacitated or pass away can be overwhelmingly stressful for loved ones to deal with. Creating an estate plan is a proactive way to avoid family feuds and costly court proceedings.

Protect Beneficiaries

One of the main reasons for creating an estate plan is to protect beneficiaries. Beneficiaries could be either minors or adults. When creating an estate plan with minor beneficiaries in mind you should appoint a guardian and trustee to oversee the minor’s finances until they are of age (either 18 or 21 years old, depending on the state in which they live). If the beneficiary is already an adult but has trouble managing money you should create an estate plan which will protect the beneficiary from their own bad decisions.

It’s always good to plan ahead – contact elder law attorney Adam J. Tobin today to discuss the best steps toward creating your own estate plan.

Avoiding Online Scams

Have you had an elderly loved one be financially taken advantage of through the use of the internet? Without proper financial protection from consultation with an estate planning attorney, there are many threats online for the elderly.

Why the Elderly Are The Target of Scams

Several factors combine to make many senior citizens victims of financial abuse – many have a large “nest egg” available for investment; many live alone and isolation makes them perfect targets for telemarketing; memory Elderly Online Scamsproblems may enhance gullibility; they tend to be unwilling to report victimization or poor judgment due to fear of losing independence.

Online Scams

Another serious threat contributing to the financial abuse of the elderly is access to the internet. Those of us who use the internet on a regular basis have become accustomed to ignoring the many scams we stumble upon throughout the day.

However, for our elderly loved ones, it may not be as easy to ignore the email they received stating that they won the lottery in a foreign country or that they inherited millions of dollars from a deceased long-lost cousin. Their trusting nature usually makes senior citizens a much easier target for scams such as these.

Who Can You Trust?

Many times financial internet scams involving the elderly are more difficult to detect than the flashing advertisement on the side of the screen. It’s possible that your parents were actively seeking an investment specialist and found someone who seemed like an expert. After several conversations with the person (usually through email or over the phone) your elderly parents seem to think this investment opportunity is one they can’t pass up. Before realizing it, they’ve signed away thousands of dollars that they’ll probably never see again.

The question is – how do you protect your elderly parents from being taken advantage of? The most proactive way to ensure that your parents don’t lose money to online scams is to have access to their financial statements. But most importantly you should have your parents meet with an elder law attorney to discuss financial planning and how they can best protect their assets. Contact estate planning lawyer, Adam J. Tobin today for a free consultation.

Housing Options for Senior Citizens

Is staying at home still the best option for your elderly parents? Certain circumstances may have made you realize that this is no longer the case. Perhaps they have grown incapable of taking care of themselves in addition to their home. This could be the result of changing physical, mental, or financial conditions. Now you’re faced with the decision of how to go about providing the best opportunity for your parents to lead a comfortable lifestMassachusetts Retirement Communityyle. Before you try to swoop in and save the day, make sure to include you parents in the decision-making process. Ultimately, it’s their life and you need to be sure to recognize and respect their personal wants and needs. Now that you’ve got the conversation started it’s time to evaluate the various alternatives:

Retirement Community. Otherwise known as an Independent Living Community or Congregate Living, this may be the best option if your parents are still fairly independent – meaning that they don’t need help with daily activities, such as getting dressed, bathing, feeding themselves, etc. – but desire the security and convenience of a community. Some of these communities offer organized social and recreational activities, while others offer amenities such as housekeeping and transportation. Other amenities may include swimming pools, exercise facilities, clubhouse, laundry facilities, and access to meals. However, be aware these types of communities do not offer medical care to residents and there is also usually an age requirement (typically 55).

Assisted Living Community. These living communities aim to provide as much independence to the residents as possible in a private setting. These communities are designed for senior citizens who cannot safely live completely independently, but do not require the high level of care of nursing homes. Although 24-hour support services and licensed nurses are often provided, assisted living communities are not considered medical facilities and do not accept Medicare or Medicaid as payment. Also, amenities such as housekeeping, social activities, transportation, aMassachusetts Home Carend meals are also usually offered.

Nursing Home. Nursing homes cater to elderly citizens who can no longer care for themselves and require 24-hour professional care. Long-term residents generally require a high level of care and may have complex medical conditions. Nursing home residents receive in-house medical care, rehabilitation, physical and other types of therapies. Some facilities concentrate treating those with Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, dementia or other special health situations.

Home Care. Home care is designed to allow senior citizens to maintain a feeling of independence while still receiving the care that they require. Many home care nurses will come in on an agreed upon schedule, while others may live in the home in order to provide the highest level of care possible. This type of care typically includes help with daily activities, paying bills, making appointments, providing transportation, and providing companionship and emotional support to the individual.

After gathering all of the information about the best options in your area, your parents’ living preferences, and your financial position, you can make a decision. To help understand your parents’ rights and obligations throughout this process, consult an elder law attorney. Contact the law offices of Adam J. Tobin today for more information!