With an ever-increasing percentage of the population falling into the category of senior citizens, there’s always a demand for any kind of services that caters to them. Whether it’s better healthcare or the appropriate legal advice, care for the elderly is a growth market. Among the many aspects of caring for the elderly, ensuring that they have the legal capacity to make their own choices is crucial. That’s where lifecare planning comes in. It is a legal arrangement in which a person chooses another individual or party to represent their wishes as far as health matters go in the event that they are incapacitated. Of course, this does not only apply to senior citizens. A person approaching middle age, for example might choose to have such an arrangement to ensure that their health care wishes are respected in case they get an accident or a terminal condition that robs them of their mental faculties. To know more about such arrangements, you can read more here.
Throughout human history, debilitating illnesses or injuries have led to great suffering, both for the victims and their loved ones. Such afflictions have always placed a great strain on family bonds. The idea of lifecare planning evolved as a response to dealing with such scenarios.
Lifecare planning is a way of making informed choices as far as the care and needs of an individual go if they ever become incapacitated. This includes the associated costs of providing proper care to ensure that such an individual lives a normal life as much as can be helped.
A Life Care Plan is the document that lays out all such arrangements. Of course, the creation of this document involves perusing through the client’s medical records, a thorough assessment of the client, and reviewing the client’s current conditions and its associated costs as far as care goes. Health care providers are also crucial in this process, helping to provide valuable input as far as the patient’s prognosis goes. The person responsible for drawing up this document is a life care planner. In addition to these sources of information, the life care planner also consults up-to-date medical literature regarding the conditions affecting the individual under their charge. Needless to say, the life care plan needs to be specific to meet the individual’s unique circumstances.
Because of the increasing number of senior citizens and an ever-evolving medical care system, ensuring that this demographic is well-informed and catered for has led to the growth of a relatively new field of law; elder law. This branch of law specifically addresses the issue of having a well-planned life care plan from a legal standpoint.
When setting up a life care plan, not every elderly person will have a family member to rely on. In such cases, they may have to go into a long-term care facility. Depending on their condition after the creation of the life care plan, they may have cognitive deficits, thereby necessitating them to be committed to a facility that addresses such issues.
Attorneys that focus on elder law have a myriad of issues to deal with as far as life care plans go. For example, the cost of long-term care can be astronomical. If a client cannot afford it, finding alternative means of funding can be challenging. For elderly individuals that start the process of having a life care plan early, they may have the option of favorable insurance policies and other assistance programs to help them cover such future costs.
A New Approach
An attorney focused on elder law can work closely with a life care planner and other players to draw up a very favorable long-term care plan for their client. This is becoming more common as more people see the merits of preparing early for the eventuality of not being in a position to make their own medical decisions. To this end, there are some options. These include;
Power of Attorney (POA): This is a legally-binding arrangement in which an individual authorizes another to act on their behalf, usually in matters of finances and health issues. In some jurisdictions, it’s common practice to have a separate power of attorney for financial matters and another for health matters. The authorized individual, called an agent, assumes responsibility for making such crucial decisions if the one that authorized it(the client) becomes incapacitated.
Guardianship: There are instances when a person becomes incapacitated without having a power of attorney or a life care plan. In such cases, guardianship is the route to go. Here, a court hearing is required for somebody to be appointed as a guardian over another person. This can get complicated if there are different family members with conflicting opinions about what’s best for the incapacitated person. An elder law attorney is crucial to have in such matters.
Choosing the Right Elder Law Attorney
All legal aspects are sensitive, with the potential of altering an individual’s life for the better or otherwise. The same is true for the practice of elder law and those it affects. An individual choosing an unsuitable elder law attorney will create more problems in the long run. That’s why choosing the right elder law attorney is essential. Given the possibility of being mentally incapacitated, the last such an individual needs are a corrupt and incompetent elder law attorney trying to fleece them.
Choosing the right elder law attorney involves
Asking friends and family for referrals: This is one of the most reliable ways. Because most of what elder law attorneys do can have a significant bearing on someone’s life, people don’t usually forget their conduct. If an elder law attorney comes highly recommended by a family member or acquaintance, it is a good indicator of their professionalism and character.
Research Them Thoroughly: This is usually to put your mind at ease. While an elder law attorney could be noble, their experience with a case like yours may be very limited. You may want to turn them down. This, of course, is not a reflection of their skills and reputation but a simple case of incompatibility.
At the end of the day, a good elder law attorney, together with a reputable life care planner, can make all the difference for elderly people that need their services.