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May Is National Elder Law Month: What Seniors Need To Know

May Is National Elder Law Month: What All Older Americans Need To Know

Seniors work hard throughout their lifetime to make their own decisions and paths through every phase of life. It may not seem like making those decisions later in life can become a challenge, but that is often exactly what occurs. May is National Elder Law Month, and it is the ideal opportunity to begin the conversation about needs, desires, and goals for this phase of life.

As you prepare for your future or want to help your parents do so, reach out to The Siegel Law Group for guidance and support. Our Estate Planning Attorneys are ready to provide you with the support and guidance you need.

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What Is National Elder Law Month?

National Elder Law Month is a period of time when there is a renewed focus on the legal tools and services that older Americans need. This focus began in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy, along with the National Council of Senior Citizens, established the month as “Senior Citizens Month.” Since that time, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys has maintained May as a time to provide education about legal services and support available to seniors.

The Importance of Educating Seniors

Older adults, as well as those with special needs, have the right to legal support and guidance at any time they need it. During May, the focus is on providing access to valuable education and tools that can help provide more insight into those rights. May is also noted as a time when various community organizations give back by providing support, educational services, and guidance to older Americans who may need some help at this point in their lives.

What All Older Americans Need to Know About Elder Law

Elder Law is complex. There is often a fine line between being able to take care of big decisions yourself and the need for guidance. There are also a lot of very hard decisions to make during this time of life, and that does not make it any easier for older Americans to prioritize decisions such as those about health and end-of-life needs.

Yet, as your Estate Planning Attorneys, our team is always here to help you. We encourage you to reach out to us to discuss any Elder Law concerns you have. In particular, the following services are the most important conversations to have with your family and your attorney.

Health Care Decisions

One of the first steps that many older Americans should take into consideration relates to Health Care Planning. It is often necessary to consider factors such as:

  • Who can make medical decisions for you
  • What specific types of care you may want
  • What types of care you do not want
  • At what point can someone take over care for you should you become unable to do so due to cognitive deficiencies

Many people have very strong opinions in these areas, and rightfully so. Having a Health Care Directive in place gives you a voice later when you cannot make those decisions alone.

End-of-Life Decisions

End-of-life decisions are also complex. For some, there are very specific needs for what happens at the end of life. For example, you may have to think about areas such as:

  • If you would like mechanical support to maintain your life
  • What limitations you want for disease management
  • Where you wish to pass from life if there is time to make that decision
  • What end-of-life decisions you want to be made for what occurs to your body

End-of-life decisions can include as much or as little detail as you like. If you have very significant opinions or needs, clarifying them now makes sense.

Power of Attorney

In some situations, you may need to appoint someone who can make financial decisions for you. A Durable Power of Attorney is a person that you choose, inform and then rely on to make decisions for you in case you cannot do so. If you are in a car accident tomorrow, you need to know someone can make the decisions about your life. You also need to think about what would happen to your finances. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Are there people you wish (or wish to exclude) from having access to your bank accounts
  • Who should be responsible for paying rent and mortgage payments if you are unable to do so yourself
  • Do you want to assign someone to make investment decisions for you

The key here is not just to assign a person to these tasks but also to educate them on your expectations and desires. It is their responsibility, at that point, to make decisions based on the wishes you communicate to them.

Wills and Trusts

Establishing a Will and Trust, if you have not done so at this point in your life, is always a very good idea. Even if you do not have significant assets, these legal documents empower you to make decisions now. Some factors to consider include:

  • Any decisions related specifically to the way you wish assets to pass from you to your heirs
  • Specific communication about heirs and their rights or limitations
  • Trust formation to protect assets for your family members and potentially reduce tax obligations

Wills and Trusts can be core tools for managing decisions. Know that you can change them over time as it becomes beneficial to do so. Yet, not having one can leave your Estate up to the decisions of people in your family.

Everyone should have these documents in place. Those who have significant assets, wishes or specific desires for their care should absolutely have these documents in place to protect them.

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Call THE South Florida Elder Law Attorneys – The Siegel Law Group

When it comes to Elder Law and Estate Planning, all Seniors need to make the hard decisions now while they have the ability to do so. You do not have to do so alone. Call our office at 561-576-6206 to schedule a complimentary consultation, or submit our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

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Whether you need to create or update your estate plan, are preparing for long-term care, have a loved one entering or in a nursing home, or need to develop a strategy for your business, we are here to assist you.

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