Articles Posted in Elder Law

As individuals in Texas get older, there are new issues they must face like obtaining long-term care and applying for benefits. All of these issues fall under the category of elder law. Elder law is an aspect of estate planning that focuses on the needs of individuals as they age. However, with many nursing homes closing, it has become even more imperative to plan ahead for long-term care. While this may be an overwhelming and scary concept, elder law attorneys are skilled at navigating these issues and ensure elders can obtain the care they deserve.

Big Shifts in Senior Living Care to Come

Five Star Senior Living—a major senior living business with over 1,500 retirement communities—has announced they will exit the skilled nursing business by the end of 2021. Instead, the business is shifting to smaller senior living communities that do not require the same elder care and skilled nursing capabilities. As more businesses like Five Star get out of the senior nursing facility business, it will become harder for elders to obtain long-term care.

As loved ones get older, their family often worries about them—both mentally and physically. One particular fear is their loved one being unduly influenced to do something they may not want to do. Seniors tend to be more susceptible to this undue influence because they are more likely to depend on others for daily activities like help with transportation and paying bills. While undue influence may be easy to name, individuals often have difficulty spotting it. Below are common questions and solutions to identifying undue influence and assisting Houston seniors who are in such a situation.

What Situations Increase Vulnerability and Who Can Exert Undue Influence?

While any adult can be a victim of undue influence, there are certain situations that increase a person’s vulnerability—and thus, their likelihood to be exploited. These situations include, but are not limited to, cognitive impairments, illness, isolation, and physical ailments. Because these circumstances increase a person’s dependency—as they need others to help them—it is more likely that an individual will exert undue influence on them.

It can often be disheartening when a loved one begins to wander, when they cannot remember their name and meander away from their home. Wandering is a risk associated with many conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. Warning signs include forgetting how to get to familiar places, trying to “go home” when a person is already at home, and acting as if doing a chore, but getting nothing done. When this occurs, it can often become overwhelming and anxiety-inducing for caregivers. There are steps loved ones and caretakers can take to ensure their elderly loved ones are safe and constantly cared for as they wander. A Houston estate planning attorney can help families confront this difficult issue.

Make Sure the Person Always Carries Identification

While this will not prevent wandering, it helps ensure a lost loved one will be returned home. However, as a person can remove an ID from a wallet, giving an elderly loved one medical ID jewelry – like a bracelet or pendant – could help a loved one return safely in case they accidentally wander far from home.

As a person gets older, the legal issues they encounter differ from those that other people face. To address these needs, Elder Law is a relatively new practice area that focuses on the issues affecting the aging population, helping to prepare them, and their loved ones, for any future problems that might arise. As Elder Law deals with some of society’s most vulnerable people, attorneys who work in this practice area take into account the difficulties that accompany the aging process. The practice of Houston Elder Law encompasses many different areas of law. Below are some issues normally included within the practice of Elder Law.

Securing Senior Housing

Helping a senior transition to a new housing arrangement can often be difficult. Elder Law attorneys are often consulted to assess an elderly person’s situation and determine whether a nursing home or life care community is necessary. If a move to a nursing home is required, Elder Law attorneys will help explore all housing options, investigate nursing home quality and inform seniors of their patient rights.

2.7.20This time of the year is a great time to revisit your estate plan, so you can ensure your legacy is protected for years to come.”

Many of us set New Year’s resolutions to improve our quality of life. While it’s often a goal to exercise more or eat more healthily, you can also resolve to improve your financial well-being. It’s a great time to review your estate plan to make sure your legacy is protected.

The Tennessean’s recent article entitled “Five estate-planning steps to take in the new year” gives us some common updates for your estate planning.

7.30.19When you die, the assets you’ve accumulated during your lifetime have to be distributed. If you don’t make a plan, your family may be left to clean up a legal mess, quarrel amongst themselves, or watch as a long-lost family member is given everything by a court decision.

An estate planning attorney helps clients, by making sure that the distribution of property after the person dies is done the way they wanted it done. While a plan may be simple or complicated, says the New Hampshire Union Leader in a recent article, “Estate planning is important and may require help from a professional,” working with an experienced estate planning attorney will save your family time, unnecessary costs and stress.

You definitely need to work with an attorney if your life falls into any of these categories:

1.26.18With legal actions and media attention surrounding resident evictions, skilled nursing facilities (SNF) are learning more about what they can and cannot do. Seniors and families also need this information.

It’s hard to imagine an 83 year old being booted out of a nursing facility, but as seen in the case of Gloria Single, a resident of a California facility, it does happen. In this case, a legal battle over an allegedly improper eviction has followed.

A recent Skilled Nursing News article, “What SNFs Should Know About Proper Protocols for Resident Eviction,” reports that the whole eviction and proceeding appeals process can be daunting, and  residents are often so intimidated by the process that when they receive an eviction notice, they just pick up and leave. They’re too afraid to do anything else.

11.1.17A recent case of elder abuse in Michigan that resulted in only a misdemeanor, may have been the last straw for legislators.  They introduced a law that would make it a felony, if a person was convicted of harming a vulnerable adult or senior citizen.

The punishment for causing serious physical or mental harm to a vulnerable adult in Michigan is only a misdemeanor, according to a recent article in WZZM, “Lawmakers introduce tougher laws to protect vulnerable senior citizens.”  However, that may be changing soon.

Legislation that was recently introduced in Michigan's House of Representatives would toughen the penalties for somebody who "assaults another person that he or she knows or reasonably should know is an elder adult or vulnerable adult", which "causes physical injury, pain, or mental suffering" to them. The individual would be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for more than four years or a fine of not more than $5,000.

9.26.17It is premature for anyone who depends upon either Medicaid or Obamacare to breathe a sigh of life. While recent attempts to repeal Obamacare have failed, both of these programs are being targeted.

Medicaid is far more important to more Americans than most people know. It does provide healthcare for the poor, but it also pays for long term care health care and nursing home care for millions of Americans.

Radio station WTOP in Washington, DC recently posted an article, “Why Medicaid matters to you,” which says that long-term care in the U.S. is extraordinarily expensive: the median annual cost of a private room in a nursing home is more than $92,000. A shared room costs more than $82,000. Expect these prices to continue to increase, since costs have risen by 19% since 2011. Similarly, the median price for care in an assisted living facility exceeds $43,500 and those seniors who want to stay at home with the help of an in-home aide from a home care agency pay $20 an hour or $175,000 a year for round-the-clock care.

4.28.17A federal judge has ruled that a police officer’s uninvited entry into a house to check on the well-being of an adult with dementia, is shielded by qualified immunity. The response to a possible crisis was correct.

Given the number of elder abuse cases, it is encouraging that New York Judge Frank Geraci’s decision, as reported in the New York Law Journal’s article, “Officer's Welfare-Check on Elderly Man Is Shielded by Immunity, Court Says,” supported the actions of Lt. Joseph Buccilli, a police officer with the Orchard Park, NY Police Department.

The judge said the police officer was protected by his good faith actions in responding to an emergency. He had qualified immunity from a suit filed by the owners of the home he entered, in alleged violation of residents' Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. The judge went on to say that even if Buccilli's beliefs that his actions were justified in entering the home were based on wrong assumptions, the officer’s actions weren’t so "plainly incompetent" as would qualify as a violation of the resident's Fourth Amendment rights.

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