and Probate Law Firm
Elder Law Primer
Elder Law is an umbrella term that includes many separate areas of law, all of which are relevant to individuals as they enter that time in their lives. Elder law can include various areas of law including estate planning, tax planning, financial planning, health planning and other areas of relevance to seniors. The following paragraphs will provide you with valuable information on the topics relevant to elder law as are commonly seen by an experienced Portland elder law attorney.
One of the primary areas of concern to seniors is healthcare planning. For our clients, we prepare what is known as an “Oregon Advance Directive for Health Care.” This document is fairly comprehensive and outlines our clients’ wishes regarding their health care if they are not in a position to decide for themselves. As part of the advance directive, clients will provide health care directions with great specificity, including what a client wishes to do if they are in a terminal condition or are suffering from an advanced progressive illness. The advance directive allows an individual’s loved ones to know what is most important to them about their life and their spiritual beliefs. Finally, and most importantly, it allows our clients to select a health care representative for them and also an alternate health care representative to handle health decisions for them. Some of our clients may have already completed advance directives in the past, but Oregon has updated its form recently and the new one is far more comprehensive. As such, we recommend updating to the most recent form.
Another important area for elders is financial planning. One of the most useful tools we draft for our clients is what is known as a “durable power of attorney.” Most people have likely heard of a power of attorney, but few people, other than a Portland elder law attorney, are aware of the term “durable.” Durability essentially means that the power of attorney that we have drafted will continue to be effective even if a person becomes incapacitated. Without such durability provisions, an individual might have created a power of attorney for the important purpose of passing financial powers to a loved one if they are unable to handle their own finances, but unfortunately without durability the power of attorney will cease to exist. We draft all of our power of attorneys with durability so that our clients know that they are protected if they are ever unable to handle important financial decisions. This makes the job of a Portland elder law lawyer well worth it.
The power of attorney that we draft is quite comprehensive and includes everything from handling financial accounts, to how to handle digital assets (including photographs and emails) and also handling tax matters. What we have found is that some clients are comfortable providing power of attorney to their loved ones right away, allowing them to help with financial matters or as a “second pair of eyes.” On the other hand, some clients prefer to only have the power of attorney take effect if they were to become incapacitated. Both strategies are perfectly fine and as an experienced Portland estate planning law firm, we work with our clients to choose which strategy is more appropriate for them and their family.
Federal Government Benefits
Other important areas of elder law that are important to seniors are those related to Medicare planning, social security and individual retirement account (IRAs). Medicare planning essentially refers to the benefits that an individual receives in term of health care as they reach seniority. Social security keys in on the amount of monthly benefits that a senior will receive from the federal government. This amount is generally based upon their work history. Lastly, IRAs are investment vehicles that are designed to be especially tax-advantageous for seniors. Each one of these areas have fairly sophisticated rules and in order for individuals to get full use of these programs and what is available from the government, it is important that these rules are adhered to. Doing so adds up to great benefits and savings for the individuals and their families.
Given the nature of elder law, it can often include important overlapping areas of law. If you have any other questions or are looking for a Portland estate planning lawyer to help guide you through your estate matters, please contact us via phone or send us a message.
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