Living wills are a relatively new development in the law. They came about due to increase in longevity and because of the dramatic advances in medicine after World War II which allows the doctors and machines to keep us technically alive although permanently unconscious or in a persistent vegetative state. Modern medicine is most often a blessing, but prolonging life where there is no hope, can be a curse.
Many people respond to advertisements about “living trusts”. Invariably the advertisement has an enticement, such as “avoid probate”, or “avoid taxes”. Sometimes people create a living trust, and sometimes they do not, but in almost all cases, it is my experience that the family has little understanding of what the trust does, and very often, a mistaken impression that the trust will protect their assets.
Every client coming in to prepare a will or trust is fearful of inheritance taxes, and the question is always asked, “How much will I lose to inheritance taxes?” Although many people are not subject to any tax, the unfortunate answer we have to give varies on what year a person might die, and the law is so silly it will either make you laugh or cry.
If your family is facing the need for long term care at home, or the immediate crisis of a nursing home placement, one of the first things that comes to mind, is do you need an elder law attorney. The variety of programs for homecare and the qualifications to receive Federal, State, or veteran benefits, often results in a jig saw puzzle that leads to confusion and frustration. A true elder law attorney will devote most or all his practice to elder law issues, and will have staff that understands the problems faced by families, and the solutions. So how can you select a competent elder law attorney?
No, not the fast food kind. Do you have kids in college or just out and parents in their 70’s or older? Are you working all day to pay off those college loans and stopping at your parents’ on your way home to make sure they have taken their medications and paid their bills? Are you getting phone calls from mom at work, at home, and driving in between? Is it difficult balancing career, kids, spouse, and parents?
When faced with the difficult choice of how to choose a nursing home to place a loved one in, you want to ensure the care meets the needs of both your loved one and the family. This can often be an agonizing choice as everyone’s preference would be to avoid a skilled nursing facility. But if the choice is inevitable, here are some factors to consider.