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Your Partner in Estate Planning and Long-Term Care
Discussing the legal aspects of aging is not something people eagerly engage in. This hesitation often leads individuals to postpone estate planning until it becomes too late to take action. However, it is crucial to proactively manage your future before a court intervention becomes necessary for your protection.
Keystone Elder Law, P.C. is a dedicated team of professional Harrisburg elder law attorneys. We offer legal guidance and support to Pennsylvania elders and their families, addressing the various challenges that arise as individuals age and face additional health and financial complexities. Our mission is to safeguard you and your family, and we invite you to sit down with us to discuss your situation and explore how we can assist you.
Comprehensive Elder Law Services for South Central Pennsylvania Residents
Elder law encompasses a wide range of issues that are relevant to Harrisburg seniors and adults caring for elderly parents who may no longer be able to care for themselves. Some of the common areas we address include:
- Long-Term Care Planning: At some point, many of us may require nursing home or long-term care services. Since these options can be expensive, it is essential to develop a plan to finance such care when the need arises.
- Asset Protection and Medicaid: For many Harrisburg seniors, Medicaid becomes the solution for funding nursing home care. However, strict financial requirements imposed by Medicaid can lead to crisis situations. You may suddenly face the need to “spend down” assets or establish a trust to meet or maintain your Medicaid eligibility. We can provide guidance and support throughout this process.
- Estate Planning: Estate planning involves more than just drafting a will, although that is a crucial part of it. A comprehensive estate plan includes documents that address contingencies that may arise during your lifetime. It is essential to have a power of attorney, a health care directive, and a living will as part of your estate plan.
- Guardianships and Conservatorships: If you have an elderly parent or relative who is no longer capable of making their own decisions, such as due to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, seeking a court-ordered guardianship or conservatorship may be necessary. This allows you to take charge of their personal or financial affairs.
Why Choose Our Harrisburg Elder Law Attorneys
Seniors and their family members often wait until it is too late to consult with an attorney. The fear of confronting certain questions may fill them with anxiety about the future. However, there is no need to be afraid to reach out to a qualified Harrisburg elder law attorney. At Keystone Elder Law, P.C., our goal is to assist you in finding the right approach for your unique situation. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation, free of obligation.
Take control of your future and protect your loved ones with the guidance of experienced elder law attorneys by your side.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney can be used to give another person the right to sell a car, home, or other property in the place of the maker of the Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney might be used to allow another person to sign a contract for the maker of the Power of Attorney (the person who makes a power of attorney is called the “principal”). It can be used to give another person the authority to make health care decisions, do financial transactions, or sign legal documents that the principal cannot do for one reason or another. With few exceptions, Powers of Attorney can give others the right to do any legal acts that the makers of the Powers of Attorney could do them themselves. A General Power of Attorney gives the “power of attorney Agent” or simply “Agent” (the legal name of the person who is authorized to act for the principal) very broad powers to do almost every legal act that the principal can do. When Elder Law Attorneys draft general Powers of Attorney, they still list the types of things the Agent can do but these powers are very broad. People often do general Powers of Attorney to plan ahead for the day when they may not be able to take care of things themselves. By doing the General Power of Attorney, they designate someone who can do these things for them.
Normal Powers of Attorney terminate if and when the principal becomes incompetent. Yet many people do Powers of Attorney for the sole purpose of designating someone else to act for them if they cannot act for themselves. It is precisely when persons can no longer do for themselves that a Power of Attorney is most valuable. To remedy this inconsistency, the law created a Durable Power of Attorney that remains effective even if a person becomes incompetent. The only thing that distinguishes a Durable Power of Attorney from a regular Power of Attorney is special wording that states that the power survives the principal’s incapacity. Even a Durable Power of Attorney, however, may be terminated under certain circumstances if court proceedings are filed. Most Powers of Attorney done today are durable.
Yes. At the time the Power of Attorney is signed, the principal must be capable of understanding the document. Although a Power of Attorney is still valid if and when a person becomes incompetent, the principal must understand what he or she is signing at the moment of execution. That means a person can be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease or be otherwise incompetent sometimes but as long as they have a lucid moment and are competent at the moment they sign the Power of Attorney, it is valid even if they do not remember signing it at a later date. At the time it is signed, the principal must know what the Power of Attorney does, whom they are giving the Power of Attorney to, and what property may be affected by the Power of Attorney.
Any competent person eighteen years of age and older can serve as an agent. Certain financial institutions can also serve. There is no course of education that agent must complete or any test that Agent must pass. Because a Power of Attorney is such a potentially powerful document, agents should be chosen for reliability and trustworthiness. In the wrong hands, a Power of Attorney can be a license to steal. It can be a big responsibility to serve as an agent.
Medicare is health insurance and covers medical services such as physician appointments, therapy, blood tests, x rays, medical procedures and hospitalization. Medicare will sometime pay for rehabilitation in a long-term care facility for a period of 20 to 100 days, but not longer. In long-term care, Medicaid covers the cost of ongoing support services for daily functioning, such as room and board in a nursing home.
Medicaid is a federal program that is overseen by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In Pennsylvania, Medicaid is called Medical Assistance and is administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
In Pennsylvania, Medicaid funds are not available to pay for assisted living or personal care.
For Medicaid to pay for care in a nursing home, an individual recipient must be determined to need a nursing home level of care by a physician and the local Office of Aging. An individual whose income is not greater than three times the poverty level may keep up to $8,000 of total resources, but may otherwise keep only $2,400. The cash value of life insurance counts as a resource, but one car and a residential home does not count as a resource.
Empowering Clients with Holistic Planning at
Keystone Elder Law
At Keystone Elder Law, we believe that the physical, social, legal, and financial considerations of our clients all intertwine. We utilize an interdisciplinary approach to evaluate each area, which allows for the creation of a plan that addresses the concerns of the individual as a whole as well as the family. To this end, our model of practice includes a Care Coordinator (usually a nurse or social worker), whose expertise complements our team of attorneys.
When the road of life is smooth, decisions about legal and financial matters are easy to push aside for “a rainy day.” Planning ahead, however, will allow for more options as you view the map of where you’ve been and where you want to go. Don’t let a crisis limit your choices or derail your plans.(717) 697-3223