Elder law encompasses numerous practical and legal issues that affect the elderly, their family members, caretakers, and friends. The most common issues involve financial and estate planning, health care, guardianship decisions, elder abuse and end of life. An elder law attorney specializes in helping senior citizens with their needs. These lawyers assist with estate planning, wills, and issues regarding medicine, business, taxes and finances. They help minimize the taxes on estates and assist in care options for potential incapacity.
There are many ways an elderly individual can give planning and care rights to trusted friends or family members. One of the most common is by having an attorney draw up a power of attorney for financial matters or health care. The lawyer will help the person decide the right choice for the power of attorney. A health care power of attorney enables family members or close friends to make treatment and medical decisions based on the preferences of the elderly individual.
Elder law attorneys Boston MA offer another option called conservatorship or guardianship. The guardian for an elderly individual can be appointed by the courts. The court can be petitioned by family members and close friends to appoint this guardian. The guardian is responsible for caring for the individual and making decisions in their best interests. Guardianship is often considered a last resort because it involves the courts.
Numerous states, as well as the federal government, have passed laws to help ensure the elderly are protected. Federal law requires all suspected abuse cases are reported by nursing homes accepting Medicare or Medicaid. These homes have a limited time frame to make their reports. State and federal laws state the elderly are entitled to privacy and dignity while living in a nursing home. Some states provide the elderly with the right to have meals meeting dietary and religious needs and to choose their own doctors. Certain rights are granted to the elderly by some states when they sign a contract. Caregivers are required to meet the basic needs of the elderly. These laws are fully understood by elder law attorneys.
One of the most serious issues is elder abuse. This is heavily unreported. The abuse can be financial, emotional or physical. This includes abandonment and neglect. The abusers are often members of the family who become overwhelmed by frustration, financial pressures and responsibility. There are protective services available in every state for the elderly. An elder attorney can direct elderly individuals to these resources and protect their rights.
An elder law attorney helps both the elderly and their families make estate plans and decisions for the future. They make certain any end of life or medical treatment decisions are based on the preferences of the elderly individual. Ugly lawsuits and disputes can be eliminated with proper estate planning. An elder law attorney understands the protections and rights of the elderly. They help to report any abuse and ensure the rights of the elderly are being upheld.