Elder Law Attorney
An elder law attorney is a counselor at law providing confidential legal advice, and/or a representative of a senior or a disabled person, serving as a zealous advocate.
- Multiple issues arise from concerns about health, money and aging. Each person has End-Of-Life care needs and preferences that need to be communicated. Pre-need planning can be challenging.
- Some people wait until it is too late – until after they are unable to decide or to communicate.
- Delay may be a legal right, but may cause great sadness, due to the medical and legal costs of guessing the preferences, which often creates stress, damage to relationships and litigation to resolve.
- Health issues are best handled in advance.
Since 1985, attorney Carol Peters has often spoken about the ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE: first as a member of the Informed Medical Consent Taskforce of Huntington Memorial Hospital (1985-1993), by which time the California Durable Power Of Attorney For Health Care (old Civil Code §2433) was fairly well established and nicknamed “DPA-H/C” (“Dee-pack”) or “POA-Health Care”. Then, after the 1991 federal Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) used the term “Advance Health Care Directive”, California passed California’s AB 891, eff. 07/01/2000, moving the DPA-H/C to Probate Code 4650 et seq., changed the name to “Advance Health Care Directive” (AHCD) and created the statutory “AHCD” form at Probate Code §4701; the FIVE WISHES form is also accepted in California and is more “user friendly”.
Financial issues are best handled in advance too. An elder law attorney can review existing documents, which may still be valid and so quite workable. Or, if there have been changes in family or fortune, create new documents, to update the nominations of fiduciaries and to support the ongoing care plan.
A threshold question is the purpose of the planning: Is the purpose of the planning to maintain independence? To provide support? What services are needed? And where are services available?
The starting point is just thinking about the future, getting one’s thoughts together. This may feel a bit daunting. Talking in plain English with an Attorney who works from checklists, gives assignments, and welcomes feedback may be easier than trying to DIY/Do It Yourself, without a guide or a scribe. Avoid problems later – review your documents every year when you file your taxes!