ELDER LAW PRACTICE AREAS

While legal problems facing the elderly range across the full spectrum of the legal system, a handful of issues regularly recur. We have attempted to provide a narrative explanation in plain English for the most common legal concerns affecting seniors. Note that this information is very Arizona-specific; the answer may be different (sometimes radically different) in other states or jurisdictions.
Elder Law

Some attorneys deal primarily with the legal problems facing older clients and the families who care for them. Is “Elder Law” a recognized legal specialty? How can you find a qualified elder law attorney?

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Advance Directives

Most individuals have strong feelings about whether there are any circumstances in which medical care should be withheld. While people differ considerably in the specifics, most should execute both a “living will” and a durable power of attorney for health care. Learn more about the concepts behind advance directives, and what you can do to make it more likely that your wishes will be carried out after your incapacity.

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Wills

Avoiding probate, reducing estate taxes and providing for distribution of your estate are some of the most common reasons for engaging in estate planning. Is a revocable living trust the best way to accomplish these goals? It is for some; for others it can simply be more estate plan than they need. This explanation of the terms and issues involved in estate planning should help you determine whether your estate plan needs review or revision.

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Long-Term Care

The cost of long-term nursing home care in Arizona can easily reach $45,000 per year. Long Term Care Insurance may be available to help with those costs–assuming that you can qualify for and afford the coverage. For the poor, the federal-state Medicaid program (AHCCCS and ALTCS in Arizona) helps, but the rules can be complicated. This explanation attempts to simplify at least some of the eligibility rules, as well as insurance alternative and some of the costs associated with long-term care.

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Durable Powers of Attorney

It may be the most important document you will ever sign — and it is almost certainly the most dangerous. A durable power of attorney survives even if you become incapacitated (in fact, you can sign a durable power that only comes into existence only if you become incapacitated). Why is it important? Because your family does not have any inherent authority to take care of your finances after your incapacity. Why is it dangerous? It can literally be a license to steal.

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Medicaid, AHCCCS, and ALTCS

Arizona’s Medicaid program is called the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), and its long-term care component the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS). Do you know how the Arizona system differs from other states’ Medicaid programs? Learn about the federal rules governing Medicaid and the specific variations applied in Arizona.

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Special Needs Trusts

When disabled individuals receive money from personal injury settlements or inheritances, they can lose their public benefits. Sometimes that is fine, but sometimes it is important to maintain access to health care, housing assistance or other government programs. How can you structure your estate so that your disabled child or grandchild can benefit without losing benefits? If an individual receives a personal injury settlement, is there any way to prevent the proceeds from immediately being consumed by paying for needed health care? Learn more about this emerging area of the law affecting disabled people and their concerned families.

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Pets

Pet content

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Our Fees

Yes, we do charge fees for our services (we’ve tried to figure out a business model where we just make friends and do good deeds, but the bank insists we keep our mortgage current). How do we set our fees? How much will you pay for our services? Will there be an initial consultation fee? We try to answer your questions about fees and fee arrangements.

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Estate Planning

Avoiding probate, reducing estate taxes and providing for distribution of your estate are some of the most common reasons for engaging in estate planning. Is a revocable living trust the best way to accomplish these goals? It is for some; for others it can simply be more estate plan than they need. This explanation of the terms and issues involved in estate planning should help you determine whether your estate plan needs review or revision.

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Trusts

Avoiding probate, reducing estate taxes and providing for distribution of your estate are some of the most common reasons for engaging in estate planning. Is a revocable living trust the best way to accomplish these goals? It is for some; for others it can simply be more estate plan than they need. This explanation of the terms and issues involved in estate planning should help you determine whether your estate plan needs review or revision.

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Guardianship and Conservatorship

When an individual is unable to handle his or her finances or personal decisions (including health care and placement), a guardian and/or conservator may be appointed. In Arizona, a guardian has control over the person (including health care decisions) and a conservator controls finances. Those terms are not the same in all other jurisdictions. Learn about the Arizona approach to guardianship and conservatorship, including an estimate of the costs of court proceedings.

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Guardianship for Minors

When an individual is unable to handle his or her finances or personal decisions (including health care and placement), a guardian and/or conservator may be appointed. In Arizona, a guardian has control over the person (including health care decisions) and a conservator controls finances. Those terms are not the same in all other jurisdictions. Learn about the Arizona approach to guardianship and conservatorship, including an estimate of the costs of court proceedings.

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Long-Term Care Insurance

This type of insurance contract is gaining in popularity as people become familiar with the cost of long term care. Are there pitfalls to watch for in buying long term care insurance? How much will such insurance cost, and does it make sense to buy a policy?

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Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

Seniors and the disabled are especially vulnerable to physical abuse, neglect by caregiver and family members, and financial exploitation. Arizona law (like the law of many other states) requires that certain individuals report instances of abuse, neglect or exploitation; failure to do so can be a crime. Meanwhile, recovering damages from exploiters and abusers can be difficult but rewarding.

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Probate

Is it critically important to avoid probate? What costs and taxes are associated with probate? Is the process the same in Arizona as in other states? What can you do to reduce the likelihood that your estate will need to be probated? There are innumerable myths and misunderstandings about probate, its cost and how to avoid it. We try to demystify the process.

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Bank Depositor Insurance

Do you know the amount and limits of your bank, savings and loan or credit union depositor insurance? If you think it is $100,000, you are almost right. Actually, it is a little better than that.

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The elderly, their caretakers and family members often face complicated legal problems. The same issues often face disabled children and adults and their family members. Information about the legal system, public benefits programs, taxation and other issues can be difficult to locate. Available information may be presented in legal language, making it impossible for individuals to understand the explanations. Here we attempt to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about elder law in a simple, straightforward manner.

Comments or questions are welcome. Note: We are unable to provide legal advice online or respond to your online requests for such advice.

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