We understand that the complexities of estate and elder law planning can be overwhelming; we are here to help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fendrick Morgan understands well that the intricacies and complexities of all areas of estate and elder law planning can be daunting and overwhelming. Below are a sampling of the questions we are most frequently asked. If you don’t see what you are looking for, please do reach out and we’ll be happy to provide clarity on an issue with which you are struggling.
What is the difference between an elder law firm that practices Life Care Planning and a traditional elder law firm?
As a Life Care Planning law firm, Fendrick Morgan offers a holistic, senior-centered solution for families challenged by the demands of a senior loved one’s care. Whereas traditional elder law firms focus on preserving the senior’s assets for the next generation, our primary goal is to leverage the senior’s assets to maximize his quality of life and independence.
Because the firm provides a multi-disciplinary Life Care Planning model, we are uniquely positioned to help elders and their families identify, source and fund the highest care possible.
How can a life care plan benefit an individual?
Life Care Planning is a comprehensive, senior-centered approach to the practice of law that helps families respond to the many challenges resulting from chronic illness and/or disability of an elderly loved one. A Life Care Plan specifies the long-term medical, psychological, and rehabilitation needs of an individual throughout his/her lifetime. A well-crafted Plan has application in the non-judicial as well as judicial arena. It is utilized as a preventative plan for disability management outside the judicial setting. Within the judicial and insurance settings, a Life Care Plan is used to establish an accurate profile of long-term needs and costs associated with chronic illness and/or disabilities.
Do Life Care Planners collaborate with other professionals?
A Life Care Plan addresses every aspect of a chronic illness and disability from onset through the end of life expectancy. By the nature of the task, this requires developing information across a broad range of medical and health-related professionals. No single medical or legal professional completing a Life Care Plan can do so in a vacuum.
Each must reach out to establish a medical, case management and rehabilitation foundation for the plan. This cannot be accomplished without consulting with other team members, working with clinical practice guidelines and relevant research literature. Life Care Planners should not work in isolation, and when choosing a planner this may well be one of the first questions the referral source may wish to explore.
How does a guardianship work?
A guardianship is a legally authorized relationship between a competent adult (the guardian) and a minor child or an incapacitated adult (the ward) via a court appointment. In this relationship, the guardian is given the duty and right to act on behalf of the ward in making certain decisions affecting the ward’s life such as in incidents of chronic illness, a catastrophic accident or long-term illness.
Should I consider using a power of attorney?
The best way to avoid the need for a guardianship is to execute a durable power of attorney for healthcare and finances while you are still legally competent to do so. A power of attorney is a non-judicial agreement to allow your designated agent to manage your financial affairs and healthcare for you when you are no longer able to do so.
How can an Elder Law attorney help me?
Many people are reluctant to retain attorneys for things like estate planning and elder law. Often times, we assume that we can get by with free advice, downloadable forms and plans, or other low-cost alternatives to professional counsel. In reality, though, those alternatives usually cause more problems than they resolve.
A seasoned attorney can help you create Medicaid planning strategies that can help you protect assets and secure the benefits you will need for long-term care. An elder law attorney can assist you with issues related to life insurance, estate and tax planning strategies, the proper use of annuities and gifting, and other strategies to help meet your needs.
What is a health care or medical power of attorney?
A medical power of attorney is a legal document that provides another individual of your choosing with the legal right to make medically-related decisions on your behalf in the event of our incapacitation. For example, if you are in an accident and become unable to communicate, your representative will communicate your wishes to medical professionals.
A federal law protects the privacy of your medical information, though you can expressly permit disclosure to a named representative or family and friends (also known as an HIPAA representative). If you create a health care power of attorney, your named agent is automatically deemed a HIPAA representative.
What is a living will?
A living will is a document which expresses your desires about life-sustaining treatments should you become incapable of expressing your wishes. For instance, it will let your family know if you do or do not want extra measures to sustain your life. You can also indicate that you are willing to be an organ donor. You can name an agent or representative to make sure your wishes are carried out.
When should I begin planning for Medicaid?
It is almost never too early to begin planning for your senior years. Often times, many of us tend to wait until we are in the latter years before we begin to think about retirement, nursing home care, and similar senior issues. The longer you wait to begin planning, the fewer options you will have available to you. If you have assets that you want to preserve, you should begin your Medicaid planning at least five years prior to applying for Medicaid benefits.