Elderly Law, Grandparents Rights & Estate Planning
Elder Law Forms
Understanding Elderly Law
Getting older can present tough legal issues for the elderly or their caregivers. To make life easier for elderly parents and their family, it's important to understand the elder law issues involved and conduct proper elder care planning. It's not necessary for the elderly person to be suffering from Alzheimer's or be entering a nursing home to deal with these issues. In fact, waiting until such issues arise may only make the process more difficult. To save your loved ones from the burdens of a lengthy, expensive court procedure, there are certain essential legal documents that need to be in place now. The following will summarize what these important elder law planning documents are and their uses.
Durable Power of Attorney
This is a document that gives another person, the agent, authority to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself. If you are rendered incapacitated or incompetent due to Alzheimer's, illness, or an accident, your agent named in the durable power of attorney can take care of paying your rent and other bills, sign a contract or deed to transfer property, or handle other important issues. Without a durable power of attorney, it's often required to go through a lengthy and expensive court procedure to appoint a guardian for the incapacitated person. A trusted person should be named as agent to guard against elder abuse.
Without a durable power of attorney, a conservatorship or guardianship petition may need to be filed in court. In the event a durable power of attorney hasn't been timely prepared, it is often necessary for caregivers to petition the court for conservatorship or guardianship of aging parents. Guardianship typically involves caring for the incapacitated person, called a ward, as well as their property, whereas conservatorship typically involves managing the ward's property and finances only. Guardianship or conservatorship is a lengthy, expensive process that can be avoided by timely preparing a durable power of attorney.
A living will expresses your desires for medical care and treatment when you are unable to. The living will, also sometimes called a medical power of attorney or advance directive, can also appoint a person to make medical decisions for you according to your wishes expressed in the living will. You may express your desires for life support procedures, such as artificial ventilation, hydration, and nutrition, as well as other matters like anatomical donation, funeral arrangements, and more.
Everyone should have a last will, regardless of the size of their estate. This will help ensure your final wishes are carried out, avoid family conflicts, prevent property from going to unintended beneficiaries under state intestate distribution laws, and avoid sale of family heirlooms. Funeral wishes and burial or cremation instructions may also be included.
Medicaid Income Trust
A Medicaid trust is a special form of trust agreement made to avoid having to deplete assets to qualify for Medicaid. A Medicaid trust should be prepared by an attorney who specializes in elder law and estate planning at least five years before Medicaid planning needs arise, such as entering a nursing home.