Aging brings a unique set of challenges and considerations, legal and otherwise, necessitating the field of “geriatric law”. Seniors law is a field of legal practice that focuses on addressing the unique needs and interests of seniors. It covers a wide range of legal areas that are essential to ensuring the well-being, protection and dignity of older people, as well as assistance to family members. Seniors law attorneys understand the unique legal needs and challenges that seniors face, and provide personal legal guidance and support to help protect their rights and interests. Some common areas of focus in elder law include:
- Power of attorney documents and issues
- Estate planning
- Advance health care directives and living wills
- Guardianship and preservation
- Long term care insurance claims
- Will and Trust Administration
- Real estate lawsuits
- Measures to protect vulnerable adults
Power of attorney documents and common issues
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to designate someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on your own. This may be especially important if you become seriously ill or injured and are unable to make decisions about health care, finances, or other important matters. By having a power of attorney, you can be sure that someone you trust will be able to make decisions for you and protect your interests if you can’t do it yourself.
Common issues with power of attorney documents include challenges with activating the document, obtaining the doctor’s letters needed to confirm disability, handling a breach of fiduciary duty by the actual attorney, and facing resistance from banks that refuse to accept a power of attorney.
However, a whole host of other problems can occur when there is a power of attorney war – we often see this when a sibling asks a parent to execute a new power of attorney to remove the sibling from the position of de facto attorney, incentivizing the other sibling to do the same. Often, this happens when a parent is having ability issues and doesn’t understand what’s going on.
In some cases, the power of attorney may be swayed by incapacity and may revoke his or her power of attorney due to paranoia. Therefore, while a power of attorney can be a valuable tool in preventing the need for a guardianship/guardianship, it does not guarantee that it will not be needed. In general, though, a guardianship/guardianship is more restrictive than a power of attorney, and involves more oversight and oversight by the court.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning involves creating a plan for managing and distributing a person’s assets, and managing health care decisions and powers, both during their lifetime and after their death. It also includes a wide range of considerations, including financial and tax planning. It is essential that estate planning be comprehensive, meaning that it takes into account family dynamics, potential long-term care needs, and tax considerations. Estate planning includes a wide range of options designed to meet individual needs and goals. These options may include, but are not limited to, drafting wills, creating trusts, creating powers of attorney for health care and finances, preparing advanced directives, facilitating community property agreements, and using a transfer on death warrants. By offering these and other strategies, we ensure our clients’ assets are protected, their wishes are accurately expressed, and their loved ones are cared for in the event of disability or death.
What is an Advanced Health Care Directive or Living Will?
Advanced healthcare directives, also known as living wills, are legal documents that allow individuals to express their wishes regarding medical treatment and healthcare decisions when they are unable to communicate or make decisions on their own. These guidelines set preferences for medical interventions, end-of-life care, drug use, and other health care-related matters.
What is a trustee and maintainer?
Guardianship and guardianship are legal arrangements used to protect the rights and interests of individuals who are unable to make decisions on their own. A guardianship is a legal relationship in which a guardian is appointed by a court to make decisions on behalf of another person, who is unable to make decisions on their own due to mental or physical incapacitation. A guardianship is similar to a guardianship, but has a specific focus on finances.
In order to establish a guardianship or guardianship, the individual must petition the court and provide evidence of the individual’s incapacity. Although it is ideal to have a power of attorney document to circumvent the need for guardianship or guardianship, a power of attorney does not necessarily preclude the need for guardianship. For example, if the power of attorney covers only financial decisions or health care decisions, but not both, the individual may still need guardianship/guardianship. Furthermore, if a person does not believe that the actual attorney under the power of attorney is acting appropriately, this may result in guardianship/guardianship.
It should be noted that the power of attorney can be terminated by the principal by canceling the document. In contrast, guardianship or trusteeship can only be terminated by a court order. Therefore, these may provide more stable and long-term solutions for managing the affairs of a person who is unable to do so himself.
What are long-term care insurance appeals?
Long-term care insurance appeals are a vital part of protecting the rights of seniors and ensuring they receive the benefits to which they are entitled. Increasingly, we see clients who have spent years paying for an insurance policy, only to be denied assistance when needed. When a claim is denied, the insurance company provides a basis for denial. Strategies for coping with denial of long-term care benefits vary depending on the basis of the denial. If you believe benefits should be paid under this policy, you must not allow the insurance company to deny benefits without filing an appeal.
What is the administration of a will or trust?
The administration of a posthumous will and trust are legal processes that involve the management and distribution of a deceased person’s assets and possessions after their death.
A will refers to the court-supervised process of settling the estate of a deceased person who did not have a trust or other similar estate planning mechanisms. It involves verifying the validity of the deceased person’s will, if executed, identifying and inventorying his assets, paying any outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries as determined by the will or by intestate if there is no will.
On the other hand, managing a posthumous trust usually applies when the deceased person had a trust as part of their estate plan. The trust holds and manages the assets for the benefit of the designated beneficiaries. In administering a trust after death, the trustee carries out the terms of the trust as outlined by the trustee (the person who created the trust) and distributes the assets to the beneficiaries according to the trust’s instructions. This process generally occurs outside the supervision of the probate court.
Administration of wills and administration of posthumous trusts both involve legal and administrative tasks such as asset valuation, debt resolution, estate tax returns, transfer of title and title to property, and distribution of assets to heirs or beneficiaries.
What is senior law litigation?
Estate litigation is a legal process in which disputes over the administration or distribution of a deceased person’s estate are resolved through the court system. Real estate lawsuits can arise for a variety of reasons, such as disputes over the validity of a will, disputes over distribution, or allegations of financial mismanagement by a personal representative of the estate. Every court matter varies greatly, for example, a will contest can revolve around everything from lack of signing ability; The philanthropic department of a well-known corporation takes advantage of your elderly mother, sending her gifts and traveling with managers to discuss her will; Or the newer will will be “lost” to one beneficiary at the expense of the other – we’ve seen our fair share of bequest contests. Real estate litigation can be complex and time consuming, and often involves a number of legal issues, such as contract law, probate law, and tax law.
Other types of lawsuits can occur while the principal is still alive. These often include actions against actual attorneys under power of attorney or actions to protect vulnerable adults due to financial or physical abuse.
What is Fabo?
Vulnerable Adult Protective Actions (VAPOs) are a vital part of Washington’s senior law framework. VAPOs aim to protect the elderly or disabled who are at risk of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Senior Lawyers play a key role in VAPO cases, defending vulnerable adults and their families, guiding them through the legal process, and ensuring that appropriate protections are implemented. They also assist in proactive planning to prevent elder abuse and financial exploitation through comprehensive estate plans and legal safeguards. Unfortunately, abuse of vulnerable adults is more common than you might realize. We discuss identifying signs of abuse and neglect on our website in our most recent blog post.
In short, seniors’ law is a specialized area of legal practice dedicated to meeting the specific needs of seniors. It covers various legal aspects to ensure the welfare, protection and dignity of the elderly and their families. Senior law attorneys have the expertise to address a broad range of concerns such as estate planning, long-term care, health care decision-making, guardianship, Social Security, Medicaid, and elder abuse protection. It’s no surprise that senior law is something that almost everyone will deal with at some point – whether it’s for yourself, your parents, grandparents, or a friend. As a large law firm serving the greater Edmonds community, we are committed to meeting the unique legal needs of seniors, protecting their rights and well-being, and enhancing their overall quality of life.
Elder Salish Law
144 Railway Street, Suite 211
Edmonds, Washington 98020