Christie D. Arkovich, P.A.
COVID-19: IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO GET AFFAIRS IN ORDER - There's no better time than a global pandemic to get one's affairs in order. Simple things like Advanced Healthcare Directives can help ensure that you make the decisions, and appoint someone you trust, to carry out those important medical decisions if you should become incapacitated. Do this now: waiting may mean that you are no longer in control, isolated and unable to make critical choices in your medical care. Same thing with finances: waiting may mean that your assets, credit rating and personal belongings are not being preserved for either you or your loved ones if you should pass away unexpectedly.
ESTATE PLANNING - Estate planning means drafting a plan in advance and naming whom you want to make decisions for you in case you become incapacitated as well as stating who will receive the things you own after you pass away. A true estate plan is multi-faceted. Multiple areas will be discussed including disposition of your estate, asset protection, asset management and division of assets. Health care decision making, the possibility of guardianships and elder care issue should be a part of the discussion. Finally, no estate plan is complete without tax and Medicare/Medicaid considerations. Basically, it should factor in any needs that you can anticipate as you age and allow you to make the decisions as to medical care and your assets while you are capable of doing so.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY & HEALTHCARE SURROGATE - We help our clients plan their futures and for the challenges that aging and incapacity can bring. A Durable Power of Attorney gives an individual the ability to make decisions in the case you become incapacitated and cannot handle matters yourself. A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a health care surrogate to make decisions about your healthcare if you become unable to do so.
PROBATE - Sometimes avoiding probate isn't possible or it may be necessary to liquidate claims or resolve legal disputes. Probate is a court-supervised process of authenticating a will, locating and determining the value of the deceased person's assets, paying their final bills and taxes, and distributing the remainder of the estate to the named beneficiaries. A similar process occurs when there is no will, although state law will determine the rightful heirs.
MEDICAID PLANNING - Medicaid is a joint federal and state funded program that provides free or low-cost medication and medical services to more than 6 million low income seniors every year. Licensed elder law attorney Ha Dao can help plan your Medicaid Eligibility and address Medicaid look-back provisions ahead of time to protect your assets from nursing home costs and to make you eligible for Home Care Aid Medicaid as soon as possible.
BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY - Estate plans and powers of attorney require naming of someone, whether family or a professional, to act in the best interest of an estate or person. This person with that responsibility is called a "fiduciary" and has a fiduciary duty to ensure that he or she acts with the utmost care with regard to all actions taken on behalf of the estate, trust, or individual. When someone agrees to act as a fiduciary, they are obligated to act with expertise and integrity. The law strictly forbids a fiduciary from acting in a manner contrary to the best interests of the trust, person, or estate.
In particular, a fiduciary is prohibited from exercising their powers in a way that would benefit their self-interest. Sometimes, this occurs by accident and sometimes on purpose. Trustees can mishandle funds, and people acting with a power of attorney can make mistakes. We have seen that happen with family members taking advantage of their elder's financial position, and even by professional well known entities which rely on the fee income generated by the elder's financial assets. If you believe this has happened to you or a relative, we can help. We have over 25 years experience litigating various consumer and elder actions, including breach of fiduciary actions.
LITIGATION OF ELDER ISSUES - All of our attorneys have decades of litigation experience in many different forums. That is one of the benefits of hiring our firm. Sure, we draft the basic POA's, Advanced Directives, Wills and even Trusts, but really, our strong suit is litigation. Litigation involving seniors is a fast growing area. It can involves things like pressure on an elder to sign a quit claim deed, overreaching contracts by nursing home or ALF contracts and disputes of all kinds. Many disputes are unique to the elder law field such as: defending guardianships, disputes over powers of attorney, disputes over a trust or will, claims of undue influence, lack of capacity, accounting or recoupment of assets, etc.
GUARDIANSHIPS - In some cases, a guardianship may be necessary - to have someone act on behalf of the elderly individual. A guardianship is a legal proceeding in which a court determines whether or not a person is capable of making reasonable decisions regarding their finances and general welfare. If the court concludes that the elder is indeed unable to make such decisions, a guardian can be appointed to make decisions on behalf of the individual, and/or their property. This includes accounting of assets and preservation of those assets to ensure your loved one is well taken of for their remaining years.
PLANNING FOR MINOR CHILDREN - If you have children who are under the age of eighteen, or have special needs, certain priorities should be a part of your estate plan. You may need to make decisions as to who would take care of your children if you became incapacitated or were to pass away unexpectedly. Most parents would like to make this decision themselves, rather than leave it to the courts. Having a comprehensive plan in place can ensure that your wishes are met and the right people are brought in to care for your children and that your financial resources are best utilized for this.