Elder Law and Legal Information

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Get tips on elder law issues that seniors and caregivers need to be aware of, such as health care directives, powers of attorney, and veterans benefits.
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Many veterans and their spouses are unaware of a benefit they are entitled to that could help them pay for care as they age...
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You are in the waiting room of a hospital while a loved one - your parent, a partner, a spouse - is in surgery. The surgeon comes out to discuss the case with you and to ask for your permission to proceed,...
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What can you do if a family member is losing the ability to manage his affairs and is making bad decisions? We sat down with our elder law expert, Harry Margolis, for insight into this difficult situation....

There are key legal documents to have in order as a person ages. These documents ensure that your loved one's wishes will be followed in the event he cannot make decisions for himself. It is always best to discuss getting these documents in order before there is an actual need for them. The best place to start is by finding a qualified expert to assist with this process. Elder law attorneys specialize in senior care and it is best to work with one who is a Certified Elder Law Attorney or a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Speak with an elder law attorney about the following documents:

  • Power of Attorney: The appointed power of attorney will represent or act on behalf of the loved one in private affairs, business or other legal matters. The kinds of decisions the senior would like made can be specified.
  • Health Care Proxy or Living Will: This person can make health care decisions for the loved one in the event that the individual is unable. The senior can specify instructions about care and treatment.
  • HIPAA Release Form: Also known as a medical release form. This form must be signed by the senior in order for you to speak with the medical team. You are a ble to share your concerns with the doctor without it, but the doctor will not be able to release any information or discuss treatment planning with you.
  • Will: A will allows the person to name an individual to manage her estate and provide for the transfer of property and assets upon death.

It is important that trusted family or friends know where all of these legal documents are stored, as well as other important documents regarding finances. Legal documents must be completed by a senior who is competent, or has mental capacity to make sound judgments. If there is any question about a person's competency a physician will be required to make an evaluation. If the individual is deemed incompetent a guardian will need to be appointed. This can be a lengthy and expensive process. This is most often the case for individuals who have moderate to advanced dementia or other illnesses which affect their mental status.

What can you do if a family member is losing the ability to manage his affairs and is making bad decisions? We sat down with our elder law expert, Harry Margolis, for insight into this difficult situation....
You are in the waiting room of a hospital while a loved one - your parent, a partner, a spouse - is in surgery. The surgeon comes out to discuss the case with you and to ask for your permission to proceed,...
A Power of Attorney is a document, where the person signing the form, referred to as the Principal, gives someone else the authority to make decisions or enter into agreements on his behalf. The person...
Care.com recently interviewed Stephen Spano, a Certified Elder Law Attorney, about key issues affecting seniors today...
Congratulations, you've made it through the process of hiring a fantastic senior aid for your parent or elderly relative. But now tax time is here. What do you need to do? Filing taxes can be tricky...
Elder Law and Legal Resources By State
Legal Resources Managing the legal side of senior care. Although few people enjoy the process of writing a will and dividing up their possessions and assets, the task is important. Without a will, seniors...
Alaska - Legal Resources As much as we don't want to think about the inevitable, drafting a will and other legal matters need to be considered as we age.  Many Americans don't have a will and...
Arizona - Legal Resources As a loved one ages, it should become a priority to ensure that they have control over their assets after they pass away.  The best way to guarantee this is by writing a will. ...
Arkansas-Legal Resources The process of settling one's estate and deciding who should receive your assets and property after your death is never something enjoyable. Writing a will, in which those...
California - Legal Resources The most important issue surrounding seniors in the world of legal services is the will. In the boldest unequivocal terms, all seniors should have a will. It is never too...
Colorado - Legal Resources It's easy to forget that life in retirement brings forth new legal responsibilities that if neglected, can have major consequences.  From elder law and estate planning...
Connecticut - Legal Resources Writing a legal will with a designated person to act as executor of the will becomes essential as a senior ages. In most states, if a person dies without a will, state...
Delaware - Legal Resources Although most people know how important it is to have a will, some still do not write this legal document that ensures that their property and assets are divided the way...
Florida - Legal Resources In Florida, if someone dies without a will, the state only recognizes relatives (thereby excluding friends, partners, and outside organizations) and makes no exception.  There...
Georgia - Legal Resources What Happens Without a Will? If a Georgia resident dies without a legal will stating explicit wishes for division of property, then the property and assets are divided by...
Hawaii - Legal Resources Many Americans don't have a will, and most have not thought about writing one. But drafting a will is essential; the simple existence of a legal document instructing survivors...
Idaho-Legal Resources It is important to possess a basic understanding of estate planning so you can guide your loved one through the complicated process.  The sooner they take care of writing a will,...
Illinois - Legal Resources Despite its morbidity, discussing the division of assets in the event of a loved one's death is an essential conversation and having a legal will is a necessary document....
Indiana - Legal Resources One of the most important documents a senior can put in place is a legal will. In the state of Indiana, like nearly every other, the estate of the deceased is distributed based...
Iowa - Legal Resources Drafting a will is the only way to control what happens to your property after death. If you die in Iowa without a will, your property becomes subject the state's probate...
Kansas - Legal Resources Almost everyone is aware that a will ensures their property and assets are divided as they wish, but few people consider it a top priority. Make sure your loved one does not...
Kentucky - Legal Resources When a senior promises an asset to someone before they die, the only way of making sure that happens is to have a legal will. When a Kentucky resident dies without a will,...
Louisiana - Legal Resources What Happens If a Senior Dies Without a Will? If a Louisiana resident passes away without a legal will, their estate becomes subject to state laws that will divide up property...
Maine - Legal Estate Planning and Writing a Will The most important issue in the senior legal world is having a will. All seniors need a will, and it is never too early to start writing one. A will...
Maryland - Legal Resources What Happens If Someone Dies Without a Will? In the state of Maryland, those who die without a will have their property distributed based on state intestacy laws, which distribute...
Massachusetts - Legal Resources Massachusetts Elder Law If a person does not draft a will before he or she passes away, Massachusetts law will determine what happens to their property. A person's...
Michigan-Legal Resources The complexity of the law is difficult for anyone to understand so seniors need guidance as they face the daunting task of creating a last will and testament. Drafting a will...
Minnesota - Legal Resources Almost everyone knows having a legal will is important, but many never actually get around to writing one. It is extremely important, however, for a senior to have a will written...
Mississippi - Legal Resources Many people so dislike the idea of writing a will that they end up putting it off until they just forget to ever write one. As distressing as writing a will can be, it is...
Missouri - Legal Resources Drafting a will is never a pleasant task, but once it is done, the peace of mind it offers is worth the effort.  A legal will allows a family to maintain control over a loved...
Montana - Legal Resources Most families have a good idea of what a will is, but in so many cases the will writing process is neglected in light of more urgent issues that arise with aging loved ones. ...
Legal Resources Managing the legal side of senior care. There are key legal documents to have in order as a person ages. These documents ensure that your loved one's wishes will be followed in the...
Nebraska - Legal Resources For almost everyone, writing a will is a low priority on any to-do list. The process is difficult, emotional, and time consuming, and one most of us would rather not have to...
Nevada - Legal Resources Just about everyone knows what a will is, but in many cases wills are forgotten as more urgent issues of aging arise.  But when one dies without a will in the state of Nevada...
New Hampshire - Legal Resources As a senior ages, having a legal will with a designated person to act as executor of the will becomes essential to protecting finances and property. If a person dies without...
New Jersey - Legal Resources Because the legal system is complex, it is important to help your aging loved one understand their rights and get their legal affairs in order early on.  A few documents will...
New Mexico - Legal Resources Often, seniors approach retirement with anticipation and are ready to leave some of their more pressing worries behind. But one task they should complete even before retiring...
New York - Legal Resources One of the most important tasks for any senior to complete is a legal will, with a proper executor of that will chosen as well. A will protects personal finances and property...
North Carolina - Legal Resources One of the most essential documents a senior can have is a legal will.  Writing a will and writing a will early is crucial in order to allow a family to maintain control...
North Dakota - Legal Resources Writing a legal will is an important task for anyone, but especially for seniors. A will allows a senior to control their property, ensure that the proper recipients receive...
Ohio-Legal Resources Legal issues are something most seniors hesitate to confront, but squaring away their legal matters can bring them peace of mind. First on the list should be the completion of a legal...
Oklahoma - Legal Resources If there is one simple tool to help keep your loved one's most treasured possessions in the family, a will is it. Writing a will is not difficult, but it does stir up emotions...
Oregon - Legal Resources A long-awaited retirement brings forth extra time to pursue other interests, but it also brings new legal responsibilities that if neglected, can have major consequences.  One...
Pennsylvania - Legal Resources With age comes many legal decisions, including those about end-of-life choices, wills and power of attorneys, health care, and housing options. Some attorneys specialize...
Rhode Island - Legal Resources In Rhode Island, much like most other states, if a resident dies without a will, their property is distributed based on state intestacy laws.  Intestacy laws distribute...
South Carolina - Legal Resources As a senior ages, writing a legal will with a designated person to act as executor of the will becomes essential. In most states, if a person dies without a will, estate...
South Dakota - Legal Resources When there are so many other tasks for seniors to take care of, writing a will is one that often gets pushed aside. But taking the time and effort to write a legal will...
Tennessee - Legal Resources One of the most important documents a senior can attend to is a legal will. Essentially, without a will, all of the recently deceased's property becomes subject to state...
Texas - Legal Resources Many people have never thought about writing a will, and even fewer actually have one that is current and up to date, but the presence of a legal document instructing relatives...
Utah - Legal Resources Writing a will stirs up emotions many people would prefer to avoid, but the consequences of dying without a legal will are far-reaching. If you die without a legal will in most...
Vermont - Legal Resources Although it is important at any age, as your loved one becomes older, having a will and a designated person to act as an executor of that will, is essential to protecting finances...
Virginia - Legal Resources Dying Without a Will in Virginia If one dies in Virginia without a will their estate is subject to state intestacy laws which essentially outline property distribution based...
Washington D.C. - Legal Resources Seniors have unique concerns and issues, and individuals have specific needs that the entire population may not share.  Legal problems that affect the elderly are growing...
Washington - Legal Resources Retirement can bring on a whole new, much welcomed, lifestyle, but it is not without its own tasks.  One of the most important things a senior can do is to write a legal will....
West Virginia - Legal Resources Why Does One Need a Will? In the state of West Virginia, the property of those who die without a will is subject to state intestate laws which set forth property distribution...
Wisconsin - Legal Resources No one enjoys writing a will, but once it is done, the resulting peace of mind is worth the effort to your loved one.  Writing a will is extremely important for any senior...
Wyoming - Legal Resources No one likes to write a will, but the task is very important. In most states, if someone dies without a will, they have no control over the division of their assets. Instead,...
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