Covid-19 and Elder Law

COVID-19 AND ELDER LAW

People are scared to travel, scared of getting sick, and scared of dying. Families needing home care or nursing home care for loved ones are especially affected by the COVID-19 restrictions and risks. Nursing homes will not allow visits unless the relative is dying. This is agonizing for families. One idea to keep in touch with a loved one in a nursing home is to buy an “ALEXA SHOW.” The children activate it from their home and can see and talk with mom or dad without the parent doing anything. The nursing home must give permission as it does have video, but in the one case I know permission was given. Federal and state directives are somewhat in conflict over allowing an attorney to visit, as getting legal advice and services is considered an essential service. Protecting loved ones and the family’s assets are more important than ever, as the risk of needing care is higher. Getting an estate plan in place is a key step.

Those who do need care, or are in the higher risk pool over age 60, should not delay
planning for care and doing necessary estate planning. This can be done several ways in keeping with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for physical distancing. My firm and elder law firms across the country have taken precautions to sanitize our offices, have almost staff working from home, and only have meetings with clients in a large conference room that permits 6 to 10 feet of distancing. Chairs and conference tables are sanitized before and after each meeting. If documents are signed, families bring their own pens and take them home afterwards.

Meetings or signings can also be conducted in homes under careful distancing and
precautions. Last week clients signed wills and powers of attorney on their outdoor porch. Documents were placed on a table and signed with witnesses not coming closer than 6 feet. The clients went back inside and the witnesses then signed and took the documents for coping. Another client signed without getting out of his car as documents were passed to him on a clipboard through his window.

Meetings can be done by telephone, conference call, or video conference. The techies call it virtual meetings. There is no contact and everyone on the call can hear everyone else and have all their questions answered about what care is available,what government programs will pay for, what kinds of wills, trusts, powers of attorney or living wills are needed, and what options are available if a family member needs care or is at risk of dying. Teleconferences don’t have the same feeling as in person meetings, but they work and are far better than waiting and potentially suffering the financial consequences of not taking critical actions to be prepared, or to apply for a needed Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders, including Medicaid.

In these extraordinarily difficult times, being prepared in case the worst happens is the most sensible path. The state of Connecticut has authorized the agencies it hires to evaluate people for home care to do evaluations by phone. My staff took part in such an evaluation last week. That is obviously not as effective as a face to face meeting, but it is a practical work around to get approved for home care and not be forced into a nursing home.

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.

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