What is Elder Law? Elder law is focused on addressing the issues faced by people over the age of 55 as well as their families. The practice of elder law involves preparing each client to deal with the complex issues that arise as we grow older through discussion. There are many legal options available to manage future age-related mental or physical disabilities. 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:
Common Misconceptions Regarding Elder Law
Guardianships: It is a common misconception that guardianship is a simple process that simply involves a family member asking the a doctor to be appointed as guardian. In reality, establishing guardianship involves a judicial procedure subject to court related costs and time delays. The process is generally completed within 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. The process of appointing a guardian may usually be avoided with a properly executed Health Care Power of Attorney.
Finances: 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 a written authorization is required, 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.
Planning: It is a common misconception that planning for an age-related mental disability can be done at any time, even if the person is hospitalized. 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.
Adult Children: 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 a power of attorney is required.
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 the 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.