January is a busy month for Elder Law. Many businesses note that January tends to be a slow month and many consumers have a “holiday hangover” because they regret their spending over the holidays. At the same time, families are getting back into their normal routines after vacations over the holidays. However, Elder Law Attorneys tend to be busy in January, February and March.
Why? During the holidays, many adult children, friends and family visit with their aging parents or loved ones. This family time together often reveals illnesses and problems which remained a mystery over the prior year. Hence, the term "spring fever death". These holiday revelations lead to the need for families to sit down and develop a plan for successful aging, which should include the services of an Elder Law Attorney. As estate planning attorneys know, the basic estate plan includes a health care power of attorney and an advance directive for a natural death or living will. Often, we give little notice to these documents until the last possible minute, which leads to reactive planning that might not reflect the client’s accurate wishes. People do not like thinking of their own mortality or even the potential for a future illness. Unfortunately, it involves issues we all must face eventually. During the holidays, sometimes that planning for incapacity comes to light more than other times of the year. Whether it’s mom struggling to reach for the top shelf while she’s making those delicious homemade gingerbread cookies, or dad going out to chop wood for a warm winter fire and pulling a muscle in his back, we want to make sure your whole family has the peace of mind that their plans are in order.
Having a plan for successful aging can be as simple as seeing a physician regularly, hiring a housekeeper and eating healthier; or it may be as complicated and heart wrenching as deciding to hire a home health care giver or how to tell a loved one they should no longer operate a motor vehicle. In addition to these practical pieces, it is time to review the quality and applicability of Advance Directives, General Durable Powers of Attorney and Health Care Powers of Attorney and to discuss the best way to obtain and pay for care which is often needed as an individual ages.
If you or a friend had a family holiday visit which raised concerns, please call to schedule an appointment with one of the attorneys at Walker Lambe. They will be able to guide and direct you and your loved ones to a plan for successful aging.