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Boston-Area Elder Law Blog

When do you need an elder law attorney?

When you are healthy and young, it can be easy to put estate planning and long-term care to the side. However, as we age - or our parents age - careful planning becomes necessary. If you, your spouse or a parent has health issues, this type of planning may become vitally important.

An elder law attorney can provide you with advice and help you develop a plan. Elder law attorneys specialize in handle issues facing seniors as they age. This includes a wide range of legal matters such as estate planning, asset protection, Medicaid/MassHealth planning and similar issues.

Caring for a loved one can cause stress and health issues

As a caregiver, you are not alone. There are millions of individuals across the U.S. who provide care for spouses, parents and loved ones. However, the level of care needed to look after a loved one with Alzheimer's, dementia and similar incapacitating conditions can take its toll on your own health.

Stress and high blood pressure

Caring for a loved one is stressful. You may need to make medical decisions, financial decisions and coordinate for your loved one's care. This takes time, energy and an emotional toll.

When should you update your estate plan?

When there are significant life events and changes in the law, it may be time to revisit your estate plan. But how do you know that it's time? What do you need to change? How soon should you make changes?

In general, it is a good idea to revisit your estate plan once every few years. That way, you can ensure that your estate plan reflects your current situation and goals. Relationships change over time, and you may wish to select a different individual to look after your children or a new beneficiary to receive an inheritance from your estate. Every person's situation is different, and you should consult an attorney before making changes to your estate plan

The risks of using a power of attorney when caring for a parent

When you have a power of attorney over an aging parent, it gives you the ability to make financial decisions in your parent's place. It does not give you absolute authority and power, however. If you take action without understanding your rights and responsibilities, you could put your own finances and your parent's estate at risk.

With a power of attorney, you are a fiduciary

If your parent named you in their power of attorney to make decisions on their behalf, you are a fiduciary. As a fiduciary, you have a duty to act solely in the interests of your parent when acting under the power of attorney.

When do you need a guardianship or conservatorship over your parent?

As your parents age, it may be become difficult for them to make decisions on their own. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Your mom or dad may develop dementia, Alzheimer's, aphasia or another type of neurological disorder. Your parent may be injured or develop an illness where they may not be able make financial or medical decisions.

First, is there an estate plan?

If your parent has an estate plan in place, this may provide guidance and allow you to make decisions for your mom or dad. There are some specific estate planning documents that can help such as:

Protect your children through estate planning

When you are raising young children, your life is busy. And when you are busy, it can be easy to focus only on the present and forget to consider the future. To protect your children, however, it is essential that you take the time to create an estate plan that outlines your wishes.

An estate plan is vital for parents with children at any age. Whether you have young children or older children, an estate plan can help you ensure they are cared for in the event that something happens to you.

How long will Medicare cover skilled nursing care?

After a serious accident or illness, you may not be able to care for your loved one on your own. It may become necessary to move your loved one into a nursing home. However, the cost of nursing home care in Massachusetts can be substantial.

Whether it is your spouse or your parent who needs skilled nursing care, Medicare can help cover some of the initial costs. This coverage will only last for a short period of time, however.

When would I need a trust?

A trust can help you to protect your assets and provide for your loved ones. But it can be hard to know when you need a trust. Trusts are not always necessary, and there may be other, simpler solutions to help you meet your goals.

Whether a trust is appropriate for you will depend on your specific needs. However, there are some questions to ask yourself when considering a trust.

Reducing the cost of long-term care

Nursing homes, long-term care facilities and in-home care can be expensive. According to a survey conducted by Genworth Financial, the average cost of a nursing home in Massachusetts is $353. That is approximately $128,845 per year. With these high costs, it is can be difficult for a family to know where to turn.

However, there are options available to you and steps you can take to reduce the costs you are facing. If you need to secure long-term care for a loved one, you should: