Elder Law Lawyer Minneapolis, MN
Preparing for future life events can be a daunting task, as an elder law lawyer that Minneapolis, MN residents rely on understands very well. It’s important to make the required arrangements so that your values and wishes will be respected, and that your loved ones will be taken care of after your death. Elderly loved ones and their families who are beginning to think about the process may need the guidance from a lawyer who is familiar with elder law and related practice areas such as estate planning. If you or a loved one need helpful direction for how to get started with financial planning, speak to an experienced attorney such as one from Johnston Martineau, PLLP now.
Elder Law Lawyer in Minneapolis, MN
An elder law lawyer advocates for senior citizens and their families, and has a deep understanding of laws that affect the aging population. The trusted attorneys at Johnston Martineau, PLLP have helped many clients for years across a wide variety of practices, and take the time to listen to each client. Good communication and accessibility is essential to quality legal assistance, so they will accommodate your schedule and, if necessary, will go to you if you are unable to attend an appointment. Reach out to a lawyer to find out how you can receive help.
What a Lawyer Can Do For You
Attorneys that have a strong knowledge of elder law know that many older individuals and their families choose to create an estate plan. Estate planning can be a lengthy process which may be difficult to do without professional assistance, as there are many legal terms, concepts, and procedures involved. Since there is a lot of overlap in these topics, elder law attorneys often specialize in both topics. Here are some of the legal services a Minneapolis, Minnesota elder law lawyer can offer:
- Draft legal documents such as wills, living wills, and durable power of attorney
- Review your financial information and check your documents to make sure they are free of errors
- Explain the definition and significance of legal terms and concepts you may not be familiar with
- Assist you with decisions related to healthcare planning
- Help in choosing individuals to include in your estate plan
- File a claim for cases involving personal injury or nursing home abuse
Questions for an Elder Law Attorney
It is understandable if you are not sure what the best approach is to specify your estate planning goals. Common questions a client may have for an elder law attorney include the following:
- How do I know if I need an estate plan?
- What documents are included in an estate plan?
- Who should I include in my estate plan?
- How do I determine the value of my estate?
- Can my estate plan be updated?
Can My Loved One Sign Legal Documents, Even With Dementia?
Understanding dementia is hard, but the answer to this question depends on your loved one’s dementia. How advanced is it at the time of the signing? Do they have the capacity to understand what they are signing, even if they may not remember their loved ones? Courts have actually found that many people in advanced stages of dementia understand and are deemed competent enough to sign important legal documentation. The medical deifinition of incapacitated is different than the legal definition, Someone who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can still be legally competent to sign paperwork. The physician treating them can write up a statement that declares them incapacitated or not, but this does not determine the legal incapacity of your loved one. Legal documents have different capacity requirements, and your elder law lawyer can walk you through that.
What Core Documents Do I Need?
Most people should have these documents, regardless of age.
- Durable power of attorney, that also contains long-term care planning statements within (typically generic forms do not suffice here).
- Health care directions (such as living wills, and health care surrogate designation).
- Last Will & Testament
- Trust agreement
What Is The Greatest Threat To My Financial Security?
Did you know that for people who are over the age of fifty, the greatest threat to their financial security and sometimes their financial independence is long term care? People with dementia or other ailments may need more care than their families can provide at home, and for people who do not have ailments that are considered terminal will require care for longer periods of time, typically the rest of their lives.
The issue is, though, long term care is expensive and most people cannot afford long term care. Either they cannot afford it or everything they have will be wiped out trying to pay for it. There are legal and ethical ways of protecting your life saving’s from the cost of care, without having to give away your assets or waiting out penalty periods. Ask your lawyer about this.
Are There Dementia Specific Provisions for Power of Attorney?
Great question! Elder law lawyers may have provisions in place for dementia-specific and long term care issues that are not found in typical powers of attorney. An example is the issue of hospital and nursing homes chasing after adult children with their parents’ unpaid bills, these facilities seek the patient’s signature of the admissions agreements but also want the children’s signatures. The power of attorney would contain a specific provision that either authorizes the children of the patient to sign these agreements on the patient’s behalf. This means your children are signing as a representative capacity, and are not liable for any costs incurred.
Another example of provisions that most elder law lawyers are going to have in place involve Medicaid and V.A. benefit planning. There were changes to the law that make it more important than ever for your children to have the authority to protect your assets even if you (the patient) cannot sign.
The 3 Most Important Questions You Might Have for an Elder Law Attorney
The more people age, the more they begin to worry about how their loved ones will fare when they are gone. An elder law attorney in Minnesota can help ease your anxieties and guide you towards proper estate planning.
What Does “Estate Planning” Mean?
Estate planning involves figuring out how you want your assets to be handled after you are gone. Assets can include any financial accounts, property, memorabilia, and more. Without implementing wills and trusts, you don’t get much of a say in how your estate is divided amongst loved ones. Sometimes, everything could default to your spouse or children. In other cases, the state could claim your assets.
Estate planning could also include deciding what you wish to donate to charity, reducing expenses and taxes for your family, and creating a living will to determine how much medical treatment you wish to receive in the event that you are incapacitated. If you have children who are minors, you should also appoint a guardian as part of your estate planning.
Do I Need a Will or a Trust?
There are several ways you can plan your estate, and if you want to ensure that the avenues you take are in legal compliance, you should hire an elder law attorney in Minnesota to help you through the process. For example, all wills go through probate, where a court examines the document to determine its validity. A will that you handwrote in secret could be easily contested if it did not go through the proper channels, thus making it difficult for the court to proceed with how you wanted your estate handled. To create a valid will, it must be written and signed by you in the presence of two adult witnesses. Trusts don’t have to go through the probate process. A trust dictates who gets an inheritance, when they receive it, and if they’ll receive it in full or incrementally. A trust may cost more upfront to create, but it’ll save your inheritors from having to go through the court process and pay any associated fees or taxes. Most lawyers recommend having a will and a trust, but if you don’t have minor children, a trust could be the best option.
How Soon Should I Start Planning?
It’s never too early to start estate planning. An elder law attorney in Minnesota can help you take inventory of your assets and start the planning process. Some documents, such as wills and living trusts, can be adjusted at later dates, so your lawyer can help you make any changes you wish to make over time.
What Are Essential Steps and Considerations for Advance Care Directives?
One vital fact about advance care directives is you have several to choose from. Examples include a durable power of attorney for health care, a living will and advance health care instructions. Your elder law lawyer in Minneapolis MN, can help you understand the differences between your options and which suit your estate planning desires and goals.
Choose a Health Care Proxy
If you become unresponsive and need medical attention, you need someone to make medical decisions for you. By listing a health care proxy or agent on your estate planning documents, you have someone to speak with your voice if you fall into a coma, develop dementia or otherwise cannot communicate.
While choosing proxy candidates, think of people in your life who display sound judgment, can ask tough questions and make hard decisions. If you have trouble making a list of candidates, work with your elder law lawyer in Minneapolis MN, from Johnston Martineau PLLP. Once you choose a proxy, let the person know about your decision, so she or he has plenty of time to understand the role and all its responsibilities before accepting or passing on the role. You do not want your proxy to learn about your choice during a medical emergency.
Share Your Directive
Once you choose a health care agent and draft your advance care directive, let your loved ones know where you stored the documents. You may also want to give them a copy of the directive. Store the documents in a safe, easily accessible place, and let your friends and family know whom you named your health care agent. You may also want to let your elder law lawyer in Minneapolis MN, know about your proxy choice.
Other than the most important people in your life, it makes sense to share your directive or living will with your doctor and medical team. This may save time and eliminate a lot of frustration not only for the medical team, but for your loved ones, too.
Dive Into the Specifics
On your living will or advance care directive, include specifics about the medical care you want. For example, note whether you want to receive CPR, use breathing machines, receive kidney dialysis or undergo specific surgical life-saving procedures. A Johnston Martineau PLLP legal representative can help you understand which details to consider adding to your will or directive. You may also discuss which details to add or remove with your regular physician.
How To Choose an Elder Law Lawyer
Look for Referrals
You can get a trustworthy referral from someone who has worked with an elder law attorney before or knows one professionally. Ask your family attorney, financial advisor, accountant, friends and family members to see if they have recommendations.
Call your local bar association if you don’t get any referrals from people you know. It can put you in touch with an elder law lawyer in Minneapolis, MN.
Ask About Elder Law Experience
Some lawyers may tell you that they have experience with elder law. However, it’s a good idea to find someone who can genuinely take care of your family’s needs. You can use the services of an elder law lawyer in Minneapolis, MN, who focuses efforts on elder law services and is familiar with the kinds of legal situations seniors face.
Inquire About Your Situation
You can find it helpful to hire an attorney who has experience handling your particular situation. Do you need help with estate planning for you or your loved one? Are you facing a healthcare challenge? Do you have questions about writing or interpreting a will? Is financial planning your main concern? Seniors can face a range of situations. At Johnston Martineau PLLP, we handle many common cases for seniors, such as those listed above, plus many more.
Learn About Credentials
An attorney needs to be a member of the bar in your state to help you with legal issues. Our lawyers at Johnston Martineau PLLP are members of the bar in Minnesota and have additional credentials.
Include a Support System
Finding an elder law Lawyer in Minneapolis, MN, can be a challenging task. Include supportive people to help you find the right attorney and make the crucial decisions that face you and your family.
If you are a senior looking for a lawyer, enlist the help of your spouse, children or other family member or friend. If you have a parent who needs the services of an elder law lawyer, include the parent if possible. In some cases, he or she may be dealing with dementia or other condition that impedes the ability to participate in significant decisions. If so, ask for help from your siblings or other trusted family members. It’s a good idea to have others with you at meetings or available to review information. That way, you can make sure you have a thorough understanding of the situation.
Legal Assistance is Available
You do not have to create an estate plan alone. Though there is no right time to create one, is it best to prepare early while you are well enough to express how you want your estate to be handled and how you want your family to be provided for. If you are interested in learning more about how an estate plan can benefit you, contact an experienced Minneapolis, MN elder law lawyer now to schedule a free consultation.