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Elder Law and Disability Planning

The Law Office of Michael J. Bell, PLLC, focuses on helping our elderly and disabled clients, and their loved ones, manage the legal and financial issues that they face.  With 20 years of experience in a wide range of legal areas, we are able to provide our clients with legal advice and services to achieve their current and future needs.

We help our clients explore the options available to them and their loved ones, and will work with them to create a plan to achieve their goals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Elder Law Services

What is elder law?

Elder law is an area of law that covers the issues faced by the elderly. Elder law covers a variety of areas of the law, including estate planning, Medicaid planning, advance directives, asset protection and transfer, guardian/conservatorship, and retirement.

At what age should I start planning?

It is never too early or too late to plan for your future. Life is unpredictable and a person never knows when they might have an accident or become severely ill and unable to make decisions for themselves.

What are advance directives?

Advance directives are legal documents that inform your loved ones and health care providers what type of medical treatment you want when you are unable to make those decisions on your own.  These documents give your loved ones and health care providers a better understanding of your wishes.

What is a medical power of attorney?

A medical power attorney is a type of advance directive whereby you designate a person, known as your agent, to make medical decisions when you are unable to do so. It applies only to medical decisions, it does not apply to financial decisions.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A durable power attorney is a type of advance directive whereby you designate a person, known as your agent, to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. There are two types of durable power of attorneys. One is effective immediately and the other is only effective upon your incapacity. Neither one applies to medical decisions. Depending on how it is worded a durable power of attorney may be ineffective if you become incapacitated.

What is a Living Will?

A living will is a legal document that expresses your wishes regarding end of life decisions. It is not a medical power of attorney. It informs your loved ones and medical care providers if you would like to have life sustaining measures taken on your behalf.

What happens if I do not execute a power of attorney?

Without a medical power of attorney or durable power of attorney, your loved ones cannot make decisions on your behalf. To be legally allowed to make decisions for you, your loved one will need to be appointed, by the court, as a guardian or conservator. The person the court could appoint may not be the person you would want to make those decisions if you are unable to do so.

What if my loved one is not mentally able to make decisions as to who to appoint under a power of attorney?

In order for you or your loved one to sign a medical power of attorney or durable power attorney, they must be mentally able to understand what they are signing and who they are appointing. If they are not able to do so, then the court must appoint a guardian or conservator.

What is Guardian or Conservator?

If a court determines that you are unable to make medical or financial decisions on your own behalf, a Guardian and Conservator can be appointed by the Court to make those decisions for you. This person oversees your medical, financial, and legal matters on your behalf. This person can be appointed as a guardian or a conservator, or as both, by the Court.

Do you need legal help or consultance? Contact us now.

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“The future depends on what you do today.”

– Mahatma Gandhi