Family Elder Law Expert Blog
Family Elder Law is pleased to offer the legal blog entitled “The Family Elder Law Expert Blog,” authored by Jason A. Penrod, B.C.S., CELA. Jason is board certified as an Elder Law Expert by the Florida Bar and the National Elder Law Foundation. He is also the founder of Family Elder Law with offices in Lake Wales, Lakeland, and Sebring, Florida. The blog addresses legal issues of particular interest to our readers. In addition, the blog will answer individual questions from the readership on a wide range of topics.
We owe immense gratitude to those who are caring for the sick, and to those who support those workers. At the same time, we should be skeptical of bills we may be presented for that care.
Whether at home or in a long-term care facility, America's elderly are facing increasing incidents of mistreatment and abuse as social isolation during the pandemic creates more vulnerabilities. Stay-at-home guidelines isolate seniors from the systems that can protect them like medical providers, congregations, extended family, and senior centers. The high rate of coronavirus deaths for those Americans 70 and older increases fear and their dependency on those who might seek to take advantage of them. Sadly, most of these abusers are family members, such as an adult child or spouse, followed by caregivers or staff in a long-term care facility.
Whether you are the Executor or an heir of the probate estate, knowing the lawyer’s role is one of the first steps you should take at the beginning of the probate process. One of the biggest sources of conflict in probating the estate is understanding the role of the lawyer hired by the Executor of a probate estate. Many Executors do not understand the probate process and leave the tasks up to the lawyer. The heirs of the estate may hear only from the lawyer or may hear the Executor say, “This is what the lawyer says we have to do.” This often raises the question, does the lawyer owe a fiduciary duty to the heirs of the estate since the Executor owes a fiduciary duty to the heirs?
By now, everyone in America knows something about the COVID-19 global pandemic, also known as the coronavirus. News media programming continues to broadcast information about this virus with varying degrees of accuracy, which has created some confusion, especially for seniors who are the most vulnerable. Rightathome.net, a leader in the in-home senior care industry, provides clear instructions and goals that don't change from moment to moment about how to best protect seniors from this disease and what symptoms to look for if they feel unwell, that may be indicative of the coronavirus. No matter where in the coronavirus cycle you and your community are, for your safety and the safety of those you love, please follow these commonsense precautions. If you need help to accomplish some of these tasks, ask a loved one.
An elder law attorney or certified elder law attorney (CELA) specializes as a legal advocate for aging adults and their loved ones. Elder law encompasses a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person. Issues related to guardianship, retirement, health care including advance directives, long term care planning, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and other relevant matters to aging all fall under the umbrella of elder law.
The Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health is funding a 7 million dollar, four-year study that accumulates sensor information from senior living behaviors at home. The goal of the study is to monitor and detect health changes in older adults allowing them to live safer and longer in their own homes. The meta-data gathered from the sensors is then distilled using algorithms and artificial intelligence to look for patterns and draw conclusions. This data analysis will enable researchers to observe the inter-relations of various activity patterns and predict the onset of new medical problems.
There is currently no cure for the more than 5 million Americans who have Alzheimer's disease. Projections by the Alzheimer's Association (alz.org) are that by 2050 more than 14 million Americans will suffer from this disease. What can you do if you are medically diagnosed with Alzheimer's? Aside from following the advice of your medical doctor an important step in your overall estate plan is an advanced directive to ensure your future wishes are met when you are no longer able to think or communicate clearly because of your disease progression. Having an advanced directive that accurately and legally reflects your financial and health care wishes allows you to focus on enjoying your life knowing you are doing all that you can to address your future circumstances.
There are new challenges to meet for family systems with loved ones who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus yet still require caregiving. Family caregivers that use to aid their family directly, now find themselves learning how to be long-distance providers during this pandemic. US News reports that before the coronavirus, thirteen percent of Americans provided long-distance care. The new reality is that all family caregivers must employ protocols that maintain social distancing to protect their loved ones.
You have the right to decide what kind of medical treatment you want to receive from doctors and health-care providers. If you can speak up at the time, you can express your wishes yourself. But if you become incapable because you’re ill or injured, you need to plan in advance. Designate a person whom you trust to speak for you. You do this by creating what’s known as an “advance directive” or health care power of attorney.
Your last will and testament is a set of legal instructions that communicates your wishes regarding your dependents and how to dispose of your property when you die. If you have people who you love and care for, then creating a will for your peace of mind and their protection is the right thing to do. Though crafting your will can make you face some uncomfortable topics, like mortality, it does not compare to the difficulty your loved ones will face trying to handle the logistics problems in the absence of your will.
For many of us who are staying at home during this pandemic, the internet has become the principal source of action and connection. In many states, lawyers can now create estate plans remotely from start to finish. Likewise, many doctors are now practicing tele-medicine over the internet. Groceries, pharmaceuticals, clothing, all these and more can be ordered through the internet, without setting foot out the door.
Kaiser Health News is reporting the coronavirus pandemic is prompting seniors to create or modify their living wills. Specifically, intubation is the topic that has many seniors crafting or rethinking their strategies amidst a wealth of disparate COVID-19 information that makes forming reliable conclusions for decision making, dubious at best.
There are over 400 types of dementia. While that number is staggering, the most common cause of dementia is due to Alzheimer’s disease, according to the 2020 Facts and Figures report published by the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org). Other better-known types of dementia include vascular, Lewy Body disease, frontotemporal dementia, and early-onset dementia.
Electronic signature laws during the COVID-19 pandemic are playing a more significant role than ever before. The laws outlining acceptable electronic transaction standards that have the same effect as paper and ink signatures are the state Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN).
As some of the most vulnerable Americans to the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults are staying at home to lower their risk of infection as the coronavirus spreads throughout communities. The American Bar Association (ABA) reports that an unfortunate outgrowth from this isolation is an increase in risk factors for elder abuse, exploitation, and neglect. Senior adults facing self-imposed or long-term care facility lockdown need to follow health and safety guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outline to protect themselves. Also, if you have a senior family member, you need to understand the guidelines set forth for the protection of your loved one.
Recent events have made many of us think about our mortality and how to make sure our loved ones are taken care of especially if we die unexpectedly. Life insurance can be an affordable way to provide for our children, a spouse, a sibling, aging parents, and other loved ones. Life insurance can provide heirs numerous benefits: extra income to help pay ongoing household bills; funds to pay off a mortgage, credit cards and other debt; money to pay for college, or money to pay funeral costs and other final expenses. For business owners, life insurance also plays a vital role in business succession planning.
Uncertainty can breed fear, particularly when it comes to caring options for a loved one currently in a nursing home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing the questions like how long this health crisis will last and will there be secondary, or even more waves of infection, give pause to those with loved ones in these vulnerable nursing home environments. Whether it is your mother, father, or spouse, you are considering moving; there is no right or wrong answer, only choices because all decisions come from a place of love. It is never wrong to try to help those you love to be better protected. Here are some things to consider about changing your loved one's residence during this pandemic.
The Alzheimer's Association has published its 2020 report entitled Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures (alz.org). The findings give pause when contemplating the future of many Americans who will be living with crippling dementia. Health care and long-term care costs for individuals with Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) are staggering as dementia is one of society's costliest conditions.
As many state officials now begin to ease current Covid-19 restrictions, the May 10th Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering likewise for nursing-home residents and their families.