What is Elder Law? Elder law is used to refer to all legal matters that affect the senior citizen and elderly population. However, many of these legal issues are also confronted by others, including people with disabilities. What Can a Lawyer Do for Me? An elder law attorney will address a wide variety of needs of the elderly. They can assist with estate planning, locating programs to address the needs of the elderly and their families, and helping their clients obtain the care and help they need now and in the future. Attorneys will help with:
- Financial and health care planning
- Estate and tax planning
- Transferring of assets and preservation and protection of assets
- Medicare and Medicaid planning
- Issues affecting older workers
- Hospital discharge and nursing homes admission issues
- Housing alternatives for seniors
Planning for the Future: How Can I Assure My Wishes Will be Carried Out? There are three documents which you should consider signing to make sure your health care wishes are followed.
- A Health Care Proxy: this is a legal document that can be used to protect your health care wishes in the event of your inability to do so. A health care proxy allows you to appoint someone else to make health care decisions for you if you are unable. These decisions include life-sustaining treatment and routine decisions. However, your health care agent will not be able to withhold artificial nutrition or hydration unless your intention to do so has been clearly expressed in the proxy itself, or in more detail in a separate will.
- A Living Will: this is a legal document that sets forth your intentions concerning health care, particularly with respect to artificial life-sustaining procedures. In a living will, you can set forth your intention to forgo certain life-sustaining measures, such as artificial nutrition or hydration or mechanical respiration.
- A Medical Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment: this is an alternative form to a living will in that it allows individuals, working together with their physicians, to document their end-of-life care preferences and to assure that those preferences are made known to health care providers. It is a physician order form approved by the NYS Department of Health to be used statewide by health care providers and facilities. It can be used to issue any orders for life-sustaining treatment for general hospital inpatients and nursing home residents.
If you are seeking an elder law attorney or have more questions about elder law, contact Finkelstein & Partners and get your questions answered by our experienced team of elder law attorneys.