Legal counsel is a great service to individuals concerned with complications related to aging in Otter Creek
Otter Creek Minnesota Elder law attorneys can explain the different situations a person may find themselves in if they do not take the precautions necessary to protect their ability to be treated with dignity as they age with regard to their life and end-of-life decisions, healthcare decisions, residential decisions, and the safety of their assets.
Guardianships. A guardian is an individual or institution (such as a nonprofit corporation or bank trust department) appointed by a court to care for an incapacitated person commonly referred to as a “ward.” Elder guardianship is one option when an individual has not appointed a formal power of attorney for health care, or finances, but needs someone to oversee their affairs when they become temporarily, or permanently incapacitated because of aging, illness and/or disability. A guardianship is a legal proceeding in the court system where a guardian is appointed to exercise the legal rights of an incapacitated person. In a 2010 report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found hundreds of allegations of physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation by guardians in 45 states and the District of Columbia between 1990 and 2010.
Anyone over the age of 18 may file a petition with a court to determine another person’s incapacity by stating facts pertinent to the actions and needs of a person they believe to be incapacitated. Examination of the person in question will be undertaken, including a physical exam, mental exam, and a functional assessment, to determine if they are capable of handling their own affairs. The person who is alleged to be incapacitated will have legal counsel appointed by the court, or they may hire their own Otter Creek elder law attorney. Guardians are accountable for any action taken on behalf of a ward. It is common for a guardian to provide a bond, and meet court-approved training program requirements of the state. If a guardian is not carrying out their prescribed duties, they may be removed from that position by the court.
Elder Abuse. Hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited every year, referred to as elder abuse. Abuse can happen in many places, including the older person’s home, a family member’s house, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. In many cases, a nursing home is bound by a resident’s bill of rights under federal law, so the abused party may be able to take clear action against it, whereas individuals living in their own homes, or that of children, or other caregivers may be more at risk. Mistreatment of older adults can be by family members, strangers, health care providers, caregivers, or friends.
Estate planning. Many people think that estate planning is something they must do when they are older, or become infirmed. Accidents and unexpected death occur randomly and all adults should take time to put their affairs in order, in the event they become incapacitated and cannot speak for themselves, or they die. Experienced Otter Creek estate planning attorneys can assist by drafting relevant documents and offering legal guidance to individuals as they prepare estate plans. Estate plans include a last will and testament, with guardianship if there are minor children, an advanced healthcare directive, and a durable power of attorney.
End of life decision making. Otter Creek Elder Law attorneys can assist in the drafting of a living will for their clients that addresses common end-of-life care decisions including:
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to restart a heart when it stops beating. Determine if and when resuscitation by CPR or a device that stimulates the heart should be undertaken.
- Mechanical ventilation takes over breathing when someone is unable to breathe on their own. Be clear about if, and how long a person should be on a ventilator.
- Tube feeding supplies the body with nutrients and fluids intravenously or via a tube in the stomach. Clarify if, and how long tube feeding should continue.
- Dialysis removes waste from your blood and manages fluid levels if your kidneys no longer function. Specify if, and how long treatment should continue.
- Antibiotics or antiviral medications can be used to treat many infections. Determine if treatment should be undertaken.
- Comfort care (palliative care) includes any number of interventions that may be used to keep an individual comfortable and manage pain, including wishes to die at home, receiving pain medications, oral relief with ice chips to soothe mouth dryness, and avoiding invasive tests or treatments.
- Organ and tissue donations for transplantation can be specified in a living will. If organs are removed for donation, life-sustaining treatment may continue temporarily until the procedure is complete.
- Donating a body for scientific study also can be specified.
Do not resuscitate – do not intubate. Otter Creek Elder Law attorneys can draft essential documentation, sometimes called a medical directive or advance directive, to cover an individual, or family members regarding medical power of attorney and do not resuscitate orders. Each state has their own requirements as to who can be named through durable powers of attorney, and the way they are witnessed.
Medicare and benefits. Seniors are eligible for certain government benefits after the age of 65, and individuals may become completely reliant on those often minimal benefits for survival in their golden years. Situations prove that some government benefits are only available to seniors who have income below a certain level, and certain health benefits and housing options are out of reach for many individuals if they are deemed to have too much money, or an expensive home with equitable value. Assisted living home costs continue to rise and can be costly for older individuals and their families. Otter Creek Minnesota Elder law attorneys can be instrumental in the creation of trusts and other financial mechanisms that give seniors alternate fiscal options in their aging years. Each state has different laws on eligibility for government benefits and Otter Creek elder law attorneys can provide information that is case-specific, based on the state of residence for those concerned about their aging plans.