St. Charles Elder Law Attorney
Law Offices of Anthony R. Scifo – St. Charles Elder Law Attorney – FREE Consultation – 847-628-8311
Our law firm serves to protect the best interests of the elderly and their families. We handle a wide array of legal issues that commonly affect older people or the disabled. For example, we help clients with long term care plans, Social Security, guardianship, Medicare/Medicaid and retirement.
The care and financial needs of older people are in many ways quite different than those of younger adults. As a St. Charles Elder Law Attorney, we provide valuable guidance on these matters to protect our clients.
St. Charles Elder Law Attorney – Assistance with End of Life Matters
Theirs is never an easy way to talk with a loved one about end of life issues. It is perfectly normal to go through a mix of difficult emotions as we approach this stage. Concerns about your own future and that of your family’s is very common. People react in different ways to these matters. Still, it is beneficial for everyone to prepare and seek the help of an experienced St. Charles Elder Law Attorney.
The court system is often called upon to resolve end of life matters. A chief area of concern comes up when an elderly person is incapacitated. Healthcare choices must still be made and finances will still need to be handled. Each of these issues are critical and can definitely benefit from sound planning.
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St. Charles Elder Law Attorney – Healthcare Decisions
When it comes to making major decisions about healthcare it can be a delicate subject. As some people get older, they sometimes lose their ability to issue decisions and communicate effectively with their physician and members of their family. While a physician may have a recommendation on how to proceed from a medical standpoint, family members might not be comfortable with that plan and want assistance in determining the best approach. The good news is that with the help of a St. Charles Elder Law Attorney, it’s possible to create an efficient plan for these situations:
Advance Health Care Directives
An advance health care directive is simply a document that details your wishes regarding care in the event you become incapacitated. People will frequently utilize this form of directive to describe what form of medical treatment they wish to receive. It can also state if they would rather be in a hospital setting or in a different kind of care facility, as well as state their wishes regarding organ donations or artificial life support options.
An advance health care directive entails your wishes that physicians and your family can use as reference. It is relatively simple to draft, but typically is not binding in situations where a physician may object to your stated wishes. Ask your St. Charles Elder Law Attorney for more information.
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Preparing a Living Will
A living will, on the other hand, is a binding document that fulfills a similar role as an advance health care directive. A living will states your instructions for your own healthcare. Some people choose a living will as a way of instructing healthcare providers to withhold medical treatment at a particular stage, while others may direct their caregivers to utilize all potential means of extending their life. A living will is different from an advance health care directive in that it’s legally binding, which mean your physicians are legally compelled to follow your instructions.
Power of Attorney
Power of attorney is among the more essential documents with respect to estate planning – but it’s also something that can be applied incorrectly. Though it is not possible to prevent the risk of abuse completely, there are effective steps to take in drafting a power of attorney document that substantially lower the risk of abuse.
A power of attorney permits an individual that you name to serve in your place as the principal for financial matters in the event that you are incapacitated. In that instance, the person you select will be capable of stepping in and making decisions regarding your finances. Unfortunately, in some cases that person may choose to exploit this role. The following are a few of the ways you can draft a power of attorney that would stop someone from taking unfair advantage of your situation:
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Choose someone who you know is trustworthy. Perhaps the most significant step you can take is to appoint an individual whom you can depend on. Give careful consideration regarding whom you would want to act on your best interests. In the event you don’t have any relatives or friends who you feel would be an appropriate choice, you can hire a professional fiduciary. This could entail a bank that has trust powers, a trust company or a certified public accountant.
Another possible option is to select more than one agent, which permits more than a single person to carry the responsibilities and allows them to divide the specific tasks you have stated. Requiring more than one agent to work together creates checks and balances. Alternatively, it could become inefficient if each of your agents must sign every document or check.
In the event you don’t want more than one agent but would still like to place a “check” on whom you select, it’s possible to mandate two signatures for larger transactions. Power of attorney documentation can state rules on what sort of transactions would call for a second person to sign them.
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Along with having a dependable agent, it is a smart decision to name another agent as a back-up in case the first one becomes incapable of representing your wishes or simply no longer wishes to be your agent. If you declare an alternate agent, be sure the documentation is clear regarding when that alternate would take over.
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An effective way of preventing an agent who has power of attorney from taking advantage of you is to require them to provide accounting to a neutral third party. This could be fulfilled by a relative or a trusted friend. It does not need to be a particularly formal procedure, but could be a basic summary of transactions. A power of attorney document offers details on which information to supply to which entity and when.
The power of attorney can list specific instructions on the different powers the agent may execute. You have the option to make your instructions as general or as specific as you wish. For instance, you can empower your agent to pay your bills but not empower them to make changes to your will. Among the most significant powers outlined in a power of attorney documentation is the ability to gift. A way of preventing abuse is to clearly define when gifting is permitted and the amount the agent can gift.
Protect Your Best Interests
It’s a good idea to review your choices every few years regarding power of attorney. Like in other areas of life, circumstances can change. To that end, don’t be hesitant to revoke power of attorney if you’re no longer comfortable with your selection of an agent.