San Antonio Elder Law Attorney
The elderly have the right to be treated with dignity and respect in their years of physical and perhaps mental decline. That’s more than common sense–it’s also the law in the state of Texas. The law then goes on to define dignity and respect as encompassing the right to make their own choices about their personal care and to never be abused, neglected, or exploited. An elder law attorney is there to work toward making that dignity and respect a reality.
Elder law covers everything from clearly articulating your own wishes in a legal document to protecting a loved one you believe is suffering abuse. Call the Law Office of Paul D. Hardy at (210) 405-1985 or contact us online for help.
Making Wishes Known
In order to make one’s own decisions about everything from medical care to financial planning to last wishes, it’s imperative that people act before their mental faculties start to decline. That starts with putting one’s wishes down in writing.
People have different views over how they want to handle end-of-life medical decisions and those views are often strongly held. However, if you don’t put your strongly held beliefs into a legal document, they might not be actionable when decision-making time comes. The person who fails to create a health care directive runs the risk of their adult children arguing over how to manage care in the final days of mom or dad.
When you have a health care directive in place, the medical professionals know what you would ask for if you were able. When you don’t have a directive, the final result can be your wishes not acted upon and fractured relationships among your adult children.
As you and your lawyer draft a health care directive, it may become apparent that anticipating every possible medical outcome where you are incapacitated is virtually impossible. This is addressed by appointing a medical power of attorney, who can make decisions on your behalf. This person would not override anything specific in your directive, but would speak for you in any scenario that arises and was not addressed in the directive.
You will also appoint a financial power of attorney. As the title implies, this person can manage your money in the event of your incapacitation. It’s common–though not mandatory–for the medical and financial power of attorneys to be the same person.
Dealing With Elder Abuse
The exploitation and abuse of the elderly is a genuinely sickening crime and can take on several forms. Actual physical abuse is one tragic possibility, but it goes well beyond that. The refusal of a caregiver to give medication is elder abuse. So is leveraging access to food or medicine in exchange for something, most notably money.
Elder abuse is a felony offense in the state of Texas. Even third-degree felony charges can mean up to ten years in prison. Depending on the severity of the abuse, first-degree felony charges are possible. If you’re suspicious that someone you love is being subjected to abuse, an elder law attorney can work with you to gather the evidence and documentation needed to get prosecutors from the District Attorney’s office involved.
The Law Office of Paul D. Hardy is committed to seeing that our senior citizens get the dignity and respect they deserve in accord with both their humanity and the laws in the state of Texas. Whether you want to plan ahead for your own future or get legal help on behalf of someone you love, we’re here to help.
Isn’t Estate Planning for People Who Are Rich?
No! The word “estate” can conjure up images of a sprawling yard and luxurious mansion, as though we’re on the set of Downton Abbey. Reality is different. Your estate is simply the money and property you own at the time of your death. Estate planning consists of the various legal mechanisms that are used to ensure your wishes are known and respected, that you get the best possible tax treatment based on your goals and that prudent steps are taken to protect your assets as much as possible in your final years of life.
Can You Avoid Probate With a Will?
A will alone will not be enough for your heirs to avoid going through probate court, with its attendant fees. The way to keep your assets out of probate court is through the establishment of a living trust.
What Happens Without a Will?
When you die without a will, your estate becomes subject to the intestacy laws in the state of Texas. The state seeks to place your assets in the hands of living spouses, children, siblings and parents and has clear guidelines for different family scenarios. The problem is that the law for an entire state is simply not able to anticipate the particular wishes of a deceased person. That’s why it’s strongly advised to put your last will and testament into writing. That way, everyone knows what your wishes are, and courts will be able to enforce it.
What Are the Benefits of a Trust?
Staying out of probate court is just one of the advantages that a living trust can offer. A trust can be structured so as to minimize your tax exposure ,while still allowing you to gift money into it while you’re alive. If you believe the benefits to your beneficiaries are best deferred to a later date or spread out over time, you can appoint a trustee who can administer that after your passing. A trust offers you flexibility and allows your beneficiaries to avoid dealing with probate court .