In this season of Thanksgiving, we are grateful (and truly excited) to announce that Anastasia has been appointed to serve on the Board of Directors for Joy’s House in Indianapolis, starting January 1st, 2020.
Joy’s House serves adults living with life-altering diagnoses and their families by providing exceptional adult day and caregiver services.
To learn more about the mission of this remarkable organization or contribute to their life-changing mission, please visit Joy’s House on the web here.
If you’ve ever peered through a microscope, a telescope, or a pair of binoculars, then you have witnessed the miracle of magnification. When you are able view things up close, you notice details that you otherwise may never see.
Part of our job is to notice details, determine the very specific legal needs of our clients, and focus the “scope” of a legal document to address those needs in the most comprehensive way possible.
Here’s an example:
An elderly person with a life-altering diagnosis comes to us, requesting that we draft a Durable Business Power of Attorney, authorizing a trusted person to handle finances. The “default” statutory rules under Indiana law work pretty well to allow the agent to pay bills, manage investments, pay taxes, etc.
But, for this client, statutory powers may not be enough if the agent needs to help the principal plan for a long term health care need, which typically requires extraordinary authority (such as making gifts or investing in certain types of assets.) In order to cover these needs, an “expanded scope” POA would be especially helpful to allow the client’s response team to conduct appropriate public benefits planning if the need arises.
Let us know if you need help focusing.
Estate planning fatigue. It’s a real thing.
The decisions that need to be made as part of the estate planning process are significant and the laws ever-changing.
We know that the process of navigating through significant personal and financial decisions might feel overwhelming and emotional and can lead to procrastination.
The good news? We have decades of experience. We can advise you as to the implications of your choices so that you can make more thoughtful decisions. We have staying power. And we can break up big decisions into smaller ones so that your stamina doesn’t fade midstream.
Let us help you with the heavy lifting.
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 . . .
Although we regularly assist families with adult guardianship proceedings, our first line of inquiry is always how we can best encourage the independence and autonomy of a person with a disability.
Supported Decision-Making (SDM) is a way that some people with disabilities (or any of us, really) can use available supports to make their own choices and direct their own lives.
In SDM, the person with a disability chooses a group of people (“supporters”) who help the person make decisions. The person with a disability, however, makes the final decision.
The relationship between the person and his or her supporters can be written in a Supported Decision-Making Agreement. The agreement can then be used to show other people (like schools, doctors, or service providers), who can be involved in the decision-making process. It also helps to make sure that the person’s supporters are all on the same page about how to best support them.
SDM can be used alone or even in the context of a guardianship, where another person is appointed by a court to help.
Questions about Supported Decision-Making or guardianships?
We can help.
Are you a kinship caregiver providing care to a senior family member or friend?
It’s normal for families to have a myriad of questions about issues such as long term care, estate/Medicaid planning and guardianship when they first enlist the services of an elder law attorney.
One important ethical consideration for families to understand is that elder law advocates must clearly set forth who the actual client is. Depending on the circumstances, the client may be the senior, the caregiver, or even both (the family).
This delineation is very important because it will inevitably affect the way that an attorney can interact with involved parties. Keep in mind that, under the vast majority of circumstances, an attorney can’t share information about his or her client with another party without the client’s (preferably written) permission to do so. That said, the attorney may still be able to accept information from you without providing information to you.
This can be a delicate proposition for parties on both ends of the phone, but we always do our best to respect a senior client’s right to client confidentiality and self-determination while recognizing that, as time passes, roles can change.
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:
- A judicially appointed guardian of the person
- Adult Child
- Adult sibling
- Adult grandchild
- Nearest relative in next degree of kinship who is not listed in sections 2-7
- Friend who:
- Is an adult;
- Has maintained regular contact with the individual and;
- Is familiar with the individual’s activities, health and religious or moral beliefs.
- 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:
- A spouse if the individual legally separated (or the spouse is the reason that the individual is hospitalized.)
- A person who is subjected to a protective order involving the individual
- A person who is subjected to pending criminal charges involving the individual
- 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.
Elder law attorneys regularly have a unique vantage point into the reality that, even the healthiest and most functional of family roles and relationships can become very complicated very quickly when an elder loved one starts needing additional care.
As needs and long-held roles within a family change, many of our clients benefit from learning new ways of coping with evolving relationships and new realities.
In many cases, elder mediation can be a helpful and empowering tool. Mediation provides an opportunity for the elder and all involved members of a family to participate in thoughtful and collaborative decision making. It can provide a valuable opportunity for family members to attack the issues at hand instead of each other.
Once the family has settled on a plan, then we can often help by drafting the documents needed to put that plan into action.
A core value of our practice is the dignity, autonomy, integrity, and protection of elders and their families. So give us a call if you have questions about elder mediation, supported decision making, or long term care planning on behalf of an elder loved one.
We can help.