Elders and disabled individuals of any age face a number of distinct legal problems. The law firm of Vincent, Romeo & Rodriguez, LLC is dedicated to serving the legal needs of the elderly, the disabled and their families. Common questions which arise in an elder and disability law practice include the following:
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the preparation for the distribution of property upon death through the use of legal documents. An example is a last will and testament. The process of paying the bills and distributing the assets of the estate is called probate.
A trust is another estate planning document. There are two types of trusts: a living trust, which is created and becomes effective during the lifetime of the person who makes it. The other type of trust is a testamentary trust, which is included in a will and which becomes effective only after death.
A special needs trust or supplemental care trust is a special kind of trust for those who have a disabled spouse, child, grandchild or other person receiving public benefits. These trusts can shelter an inheritance so that public benefits will continue even after receipt of the inheritance.
Why should I consider Estate Planning?
Without estate planning, your wishes may not be realized. If a person dies without a will or trust, the property will be distributed according to Colorado law, and the law may not be in line with your wishes. Also, if you have a special needs child, the direct receipt of the inheritance may disqualify your child from public benefits. Use of a properly drafted special needs trust as part of your estate planning can avoid this result.
What steps can I take to prepare for any illness or disability I or a family member may suffer?
Planning for disability or illness can be accomplished through the use of advance directives, written instructions concerning a person's wishes about medical treatment. A living will tells a doctor not to use life-sustaining procedures if a person's condition is terminal, irreversible and incurable. A durable medical power of attorney names an agent to make health care decisions for the individual.
Another important document closely related to advance directives is a general durable power of attorney which names an agent to make decisions concerning the elder's property and finances. It allows the elder to identify what decisions may be made and who will make them.
What is a guardianship and a conservatorship? When are these processes needed?
A guardianship and conservatorship, established by a judge, may be necessary if an elder or disabled individual is incapacitated, cannot make personal decisions, cannot manage financial affairs and does not have advance directives or a general durable power of attorney. A guardian makes personal decisions such as living arrangements and medical treatment, and a conservator manages property and financial affairs. Guardianships are often needed when your special needs child reaches the age of 18.
I don't have long-term care insurance. How will I pay for a nursing home or assisted living care?
If you don't have long-term care insurance, you have only two options for securing long-term nursing home care: First you can pay privately for such care. The average cost in the Denver/Boulder region is $6,500 per month or more. Your other option is the long-term care Medicaid program. If you qualify for Medicaid, this state and federal program will cover almost all expenses, including room, board, medical care and prescriptions. The requirements for receiving these benefits are complex, but in many cases, with proper planning, a family may be able to preserve some or all of their hard-earned assets and still qualify for Medicaid benefits.
Vincent, Romeo & Rodriguez, LLC provides a broad array of services for the elderly, the disabled and their families, including estate planning, Medicaid planning, planning for disabled children, probate litigation, guardianships, conservatorships and assistance from our care coordinator with locating and obtaining quality long-term care. For a copy of our free pamphlets, "Colorado Nursing Home and Assisted Living Guide", and "Life Care Planning" call one of our offices.
NOTE: THIS DOCUMENT IS A SUMMARY AND IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. BECAUSE THE RESULTS MAY VARY BASED ON YOUR PARTICULAR FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES, CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED ELDER AND DISABILITY LAW ATTORNEY PRIOR TO ACTING ON ANY SUCH INFORMATION.