Talking about Health Care Choices Won’t Kill You-Changes to Indiana Medical Consent Laws

July 1st, 2018 marks the implementation of several common-sense changes that the Indiana Legislature recently made to Indiana’s medical consent statute (I.C. 16-36-1-1 et. seq.)

If a person becomes incapable of making their own health care choices and doesn’t have written advance directives in place, Indiana law now has the following “priority order” of people who can make these choices on an individual’s behalf:

  1. A judicially appointed guardian of the person
  2. Spouse
  3. Adult Child
  4. Parent
  5. Adult sibling
  6. Grandparent
  7. Adult grandchild
  8. Nearest relative in next degree of kinship who is not listed in sections 2-7
  9. Friend who:
    1. Is an adult;
    2. Has maintained regular contact with the individual and;
    3. Is familiar with the individual’s activities, health and religious or moral beliefs.
  10. The individual’s religious superior, if the individual is a member of a religious order

If there’s more than one member of a voting group, then they must try to reach a collaborative consensus.  If they can’t agree, then the majority rules.

The new law also specifies that the following people can’t make health care decisions:

  1. A spouse if the individual legally separated (or the spouse is the reason that the individual is hospitalized.)
  2. A person who is subjected to a protective order involving the individual
  3. A person who is subjected to pending criminal charges involving the individual
  4. A person the individual intentionally excluded when he or she signed advance directives

So, what practically happens when there is no advance directive and a person can’t consent to healthcare?  In that case, the person’s care providers are required to conduct a “reasonable inquiry” to determine who can consent.

The good news?  By naming a health care representative or a health care power of attorney, you can take charge of these choices yourself and decide who will speak for you if you can’t. We can help.

Good health is such a very precious thing. So eat your veggies, do some yoga, and be empowered!

Talking about health care choices won’t kill you.

 

 

Carefully Consider Your Gifts

Our clients are people of generosity.

They love to give (and receive) gifts during their lifetimes and they are committed to leaving legacies of generosity in the hearts of their families and in the bodies of their estate plans.

But beware- If you believe that you may need help paying for long term care in the future, then you should be extra mindful about gift-giving during your lifetime. Under federal Medicaid law, if you transfer certain assets within five years before applying for Medicaid, you will be ineligible for a period of time (called a transfer penalty), depending on how much money you transferred.

Gifts, loans, or charitable donations over a certain threshold can result in “penalizable transactions.”

If you’re an elder thinking about helping with tuition, loaning an adult child money for a down payment on a home, or giving other gifts, give us a call.

We can often walk you through different strategies that can reduce your risks while still accomplishing many of your generous goals.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Here’s to eating clean, moving more, being more intentional with time, and getting those little ducks in a row.

We usually get a deluge of estate planning inquiries in January as people make good on those resolutions.

Let us know if we can help.
(We’ll provide the caffeine.)

Home for the Holidays?

Planning travels to see family in the coming weeks?

In between cookie baking and movie marathons, many clients have shared that these visits are a good time to take stock of any changes in an elder loved one’s health, appearance, or environment.

If you notice changes during your visit, try to gently assess the circumstances while you’re together to determine if help is needed.

We’re here to serve as an elder law resource, but we’re also happy to serve as “connectors” to other community resources for your family.

Safe travels and warm wishes during your holiday season . . .

Calling all Generous Gift-Givers!

Calling all generous gift-givers!

Are you considering gifting cash, stocks, or property to loved ones this holiday season?  If so, then you’ll definitely want to know that the annual gift tax exclusion for 2018 is rising from $14,000 (where it has been for the past five years) to $15,000.

This means that anyone who gives away $15,000 or less to anyone other than their spouse doesn’t have to report the gift or gifts to the IRS (though you’ll still have to file a gift tax return).

With the increase in the gift tax, the amount you can give to an ABLE account. (INvestABLE Indiana) is also increasing to $15,000. ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities and their families to save money in designated accounts for disability related expenses without jeopardizing their eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and other government benefits.

There are so many ways to create a legacy of generosity.

Let us know if we can help.


 

News/Community Involvement

As an extension of her law practice, Stasia regularly performs at musical events benefitting local organizations who support elders and individuals with special needs.

“Pam’s Party: A Joy’s House Open House” will be held on the evening of Thursday, July 27th @ 6:30pm at Joy’s House in Broad Ripple Village. It’s a celebration to honor caregivers and Guest/potential new Guests.

This open house is free to attend, but you may wish to bring cash for supper and activities, which will be available for purchase.

Hope to see you there!

 

Signed, Sealed Delivered-the Future of Executing Estate Planning Documents

Signed, sealed, and delivered.

One of our wonderful clients just presented us with a new sushi pen for our ever-expanding collection when he signed his estate planning documents this week.

Signed,Sealed,Delivered

But will we always need our fancy and fun pens for this job? Maybe not.

The Indiana Legislature is currently considering a bill that would allow the electronic signature of estate planning documents.

This bill is the topic of hot debate at the moment. Online legal providers such as LegalZoom are focusing on the convenience aspect.

Other practitioners (us included) see some potential benefits, but are concerned with the very real possibility of undue influence and potential difficulties with ensuring proper and personalized drafting/witnessing/execution of documents, especially for our most vulnerable clients..

What do you think of electronic execution of estate planning documents? Opportunity? Headache? Or both?

March is Disability Awareness Month

Did you know that slightly more than 19 percent of Indiana’s population is represented by adults and kids with disabilities?

March is Disability Awareness Month in Indiana and we’re especially appreciative of this year’s campaign theme- “I’m Not Your Inspiration.”

Often, people with disabilities who are successful, athletic, employed, or simply good neighbors are put in the spotlight as inspiration to others.   This year’s campaign theme emphasizes that people with disabilities are people first-people who want to be fully included in their communities, just like everyone else.

You can learn more about Disability Awareness Month here.

Questions about planning for your loved one with disabilities?

We can help.

disability awareness month

Calling all Collectors!

Stamps.  Snow globes.  Clocks.

Many of our estate planning clients collect all sorts of curious and wonderful things!

We have worked with clients to make gifts of antique train sets, beloved comic books, or artwork.

Some of these items have significant monetary value or are historical artifacts that eventually end up in museum collections.  Others are priceless because of the stories and sentimental value behind them.

What is precious to you?  How can we help you to create a legacy of generosity?

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The Wisdom of the Aged (and why we love what we do.)

One of the best things about elder law is that it gives us the opportunity to forge relationships (and learn valuable lessons) from some very wise elders.

While some of our conversations do center around planning for the eventuality of illness, death, or loss, an equal amount of time is often devoted to the legacies of love, connection, accomplishment, and meaning.

We learn so much in the process of helping.

We love this quote from this recent New York Times article:

” A paradox of old age is that older people have a greater sense of well-being than younger ones — not because they’re unreservedly blissful, but because they accept a mixture of happiness and sadness in their lives, and leverage this mixture when events come their way. They waste less time on anger, stress and worry.”

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