Managing medical issues, finances, diminished capacity, family issues, where one will live and how to maintain quality of life as one ages requires thoughtful and creative planning. We use a variety of strategies to meet the objectives of our older clients, and their families, often working with other professionals in various fields to provide our clients quality service and to ensure their living needs are met.
Elder Care Planning Services
We provide a number of services to clients and their families relating to changes in living situations and level of care that an elderly or disabled person may require. These services include guiding clients and families through transitions from their homes to retirement or care communities, reviewing nursing or retirement home contracts, helping orchestrate the purchase or sale of real estate, coordinating with professional care managers, advising on income tax planning, providing bill paying services, filing long-term care insurance claims and, if necessary, acting as the agent under a health care or financial power of attorney.
We assist with planning for long-term care needs, including locating the appropriate type of care providers at various levels of care, identifying ways to allow clients to stay at home, coordinating private and public resources to finance the cost of care, and working to ensure a client’s right to quality care. We counsel our clients and their families on the advantages and disadvantages of different strategies, including Medicaid, to pay for long-term care and help them develop the plan that will best meet their needs and goals.
The estate planning issues that confront elderly individuals are unique and often complex. The person’s estate plan must take into account traditional concerns, such as avoiding probate and taxes, but must also be tailored to help protect clients from financial exploitation, manage difficult family dynamics, deal with end of life issues, and protect assets if a spouse or parent is likely going to need long-term nursing care. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to customize estate plans for elderly clients to best meet their needs.
We consult with clients on whom to select as a fiduciary to serve as agent under a Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive, and as Executor and Trustee. We recommend naming a trusted and responsible family member or friend to serve as a fiduciary, but there are situations where such people are not available or appropriate. The selection of the right person to serve as agent under a Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive, and as Executor and Trustee, may be the key factor that determines the difference between a successful estate plan that promotes family harmony and one that leads to bitter family disputes.
Additionally, we have experience obtaining court authority to change the estate plan of an incapacitated person when necessary.
Representation of Agents, Guardians and Conservators
We represent agents under Powers of Attorney, Conservators and Guardians and advise them concerning their duties and responsibilities, including making difficult end of life decisions, managing and disposing of personal property, buying and selling real property, and tax issues. We review and prepare inventories and accountings for Conservators to file with the Court and the Commissioner of Accounts, and we also prepare accountings for agents under a Power of Attorney that are required or requested to provide them.
Serving as Agent, Guardian or Conservator
We advise clients to designate a trusted and responsible family member or friend to serve on their behalf in the event of incapacity. Often a family member or friend is capable of doing the job well and this arrangement is often more economical for clients because family members or friends do not charge for their services or charge less than a professional fiduciary would charge. However, if a client does not have a suitable family member or friend that is available to serve on his or her behalf, our attorneys are available to serve as agent under a Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive, or as Guardian and Conservator.
We take a hands-on approach to serving as agent, Guardian and Conservator. When serving in these roles for incapacitated clients, we meet with them regularly to ensure they are being well taken care of, and closely monitor their finances. We collaborate with a network of care providers, real estate agents and financial professionals to ensure that their health and financial needs are well accommodated.
Proceedings to Appoint Guardians and Conservators
If a person is incapacitated and does not have a Power of Attorney or Advance Medical Directive, or has a Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive but his or her living, health and financial needs are not accommodated effectively under these arrangements, a court-appointed Guardian and Conservator might be necessary to manage and protect his or her living, health and financial needs.
We counsel hospitals and family members regarding the advisability of petitioning a court to appoint a Guardian or Conservator for vulnerable individuals, and we represent hospitals and family members in proceedings to appoint Guardians and Conservators for incapacitated adults. We also serve as the court-appointed Guardian ad litem in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings, a role in which we independently investigate the circumstances and health condition of an allegedly incapacitated individual and report our findings to the court.
Contested Power of Attorney, Advance Medical Directive, Guardianship and Conservatorship Matters
If it appears that an agent under a Power of Attorney or Advance Medical Directive, or a Guardian or Conservator, is acting improperly, we counsel concerned parties regarding options for a resolution. If appropriate we attempt to foster constructive communication between parties at odds with each other to help resolve conflicts.
We help concerned parties determine and enforce their rights to information regarding the agent’s or Guardian/Conservator’s conduct, including the right to an accounting of how money is being managed and spent. If non-judicial means do not resolve a conflict and an incapacitated individual’s rights are at risk, we can partner with litigation attorneys to assert and protect the rights of the incapacitated individual in a court proceeding.