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Denver Elder Law Blog

Durable powers of attorney allow individuals some control

Control is an essential element for many Colorado residents. They want to control their environment, their day-to-day activities and even their destiny. While it is not possible to have control over all future events, there are some areas you can. By planning ahead and appointing someone to hold durable powers of attorney, individuals can still maintain some control in case they become ill or incapacitated and are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.

No one knows what will happen in the future. It is possible that the individual will succumb to a debilitating illness or injury. When this happens, the individual may no longer be able to make his or her own financial or other types of decisions. If this happens, someone else will have to step in and make sure that the individual and his/her financial concerns are taken care of.

Establishing guardianship

An accident or illness can strike suddenly. One minute, the Colorado resident is able to take care of himself/herself and make the necessary day-to-day decisions that must be made. However, all of a sudden, something has happened, and the individual is no longer able to do so. When this happens, it may be necessary for a loved one or another individual to take over guardianship responsibilities for the incapacitated individual.

If this scenario has been planned for, plans for guardianship may be in place. This makes the process much smoother. However, in many cases, guardianship has not been formally established, and it may be necessary for the court to appoint a guardian.

Estate planning lessons learned from Aretha Franklin's estate

Once the dust settles and the family begins to accept the fact that their loved one  has died, the next step often is to begin the process of settling the estate. Hopefully, the Colorado resident left a will and other relevant estate planning documents in a readily accessable location. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and the family must begin and extensive search for the important documents.

For approximately nine months, Aretha Franklin's family believed that she had passed away without leaving a will. Family members then discovered three handwritten wills in her home. Two of the wills were discovered in a locked closet and the third was apparently hidden among sofa cushions.  Questions are now arising as to the validity of these wills and how they will be treated in the probate process.

Options to consider in Medicaid planning

Long-term care is expensive. Yet, so many Colorado families find themselves caught between needing long-term care services and not knowing how they can afford them. Assistance is available, although without prior Medicaid planning, it may seem out of reach.

In many instances, one spouse is in need of long-term care while the other spouse is still able to care for herself/himself. The couple has assets, but these assets can be a part of the overall problem. One spouse will need funds to be able to remain independent, yet the other will need funds for long-term care. Unless the family is able to pay for long-term care out-of-pocket, they may need to look to Medicaid for assistance.

Why are twice as many seniors dying from preventable falls?

According to a recent study published by JAMA, a notable medical journal, more than twice as many seniors died from falls in 2016 than in 2000. Is your loved one at risk for becoming one of them?

Who reported this information?

JAMA researchers dove into cause of death records held by the National Center for Health Statistics. Some of these researchers included scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whose responsibility it is to study, analyze and report on causes of deaths to help improve safety standards worldwide.

Individual desires and estate planning

There are some things that Colorado families simply do not talk about with those outside of the immediate family. For some, these things may include politics, religion and finances. For others, it may be the wayward child or long-lost relative. Regardless, when it comes to estate planning, some of these issues will need to be addressed when meeting with one's attorney.

Over time, it becomes habit to simply not mention the child that has decided not to be a part of the family. Perhaps he/she has developed a drug or alcohol addiction. Regardless of the reason, the individual may decide that he/she does not want the child to inherit anything or may decide that it is not in the child's best interest to suddenly receive a large inheritance. This is something that should be discussed as a part of the estate planning process so that steps can be taken to make sure that the individual's wishes are adhered to.

Guardianship may be necessary to care for loved one

After years of making decisions and taking care of him or herself, there comes a time when a person's aging loved one can no longer do so. When this happens, who will make the important decisions? Who will make sure the bills are paid, decide where the loved one will live and make sure that the he/she is properly cared for? Unless steps were taken to address this issue prior to its becoming a necessity, it may be necessary for the Colorado resident to petition the courts for guardianship of the loved one.

Friends or family deciding that the individual is no longer able to make decisions is not enough. One cannot simply restrict another's rights to make personal and/or financial decisions. In order to obtain guardianship, the court must first be petitioned. All those involved are generally notified, and an investigation is conducted. Once these details have been attended to, a hearing will be held to determine the merits of the petition.

Medicaid planning: Even the low to moderate income can benefit

Estate planning in Colorado is a useful tool that many families use to protect their assets. It can also help families mitigate their long-term care costs. People are living longer, requiring them to fall back on assets and resources they originally planned to leave to their families. Long-term care is not cheap. Fortunately, resources like Medicaid help many families shoulder the financial burden. 

Medicaid is not just for those who have little to no assets. Many mid- to upper-income families can retain Medicaid eligibility and preserve their assets with proper estate planning. Here are a few methods to consider. 

Thinking of giving to charity in your estate plan? Ask yourself these questions

Whether you have an estate plan in place or are just beginning to think about how to distribute your assets, charitable giving has probably crossed your mind. Supporting a cause you believe in is, to be sure, a worthy endeavor. However, it's reasonable to be unsure of where to begin.

Giving to charity in your estate plan accomplishes several goals. It provides valuable assets to an organization important to the donor, as well as garners tax benefits both now and in the future.

Advance medical directives, dementia and Alzheimer's

For some Colorado residents, the thought of developing dementia or Alzheimer's is a frightening possibility. Unfortunately, this can become a reality. Although there is currently no cure, there are steps that can be taken now to direct the treatment he or she wishes to receive after the ability to make such decisions has passed. Along with open, honest discussions with one's family and physicians, the use of advance medical directives can be beneficial to all involved.

Advance medical directives have been in use for a number of years. Recently, however, some have discovered that it may be advantageous to create such documents with the possibility of dementia or Alzheimer's in mind. In other words, the type of care one needs and wants often changes over the course of the disease.

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