Elder Law Advocates Blog

Friday, July 14, 2017

Top Reasons Everyone Needs a Comprehensive Power of Attorney

The benefits of a highly detailed, comprehensive power of attorney are numerous. Unfortunately, many powers of attorney are more general in nature and can actually cause more problems than they solve, especially for our senior population. This  article highlights the benefits of a comprehensive, detailed power of attorney, including some of the provisions that should be included. A proper starting point is to emphasize that the proper use of a power of attorney as an estate planning and elder law document depends on the reliability and honesty of the appointed agent. 

The agent under a power of attorney has traditionally been called an "attorney-in-fact" or sometimes just "attorney.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What Will 2017 Bring to Seniors and Persons with Disabilities?

Donald Trump’s election and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress surprised much of the nation. With control of legislative and executive branches of government, the expectation is Republicans will finally be able to push through long-awaited legislation, as well as follow through on promises made by candidate Trump. And they are expected to move quickly. 

This blog summarizes some key issues to watch out for in 2017 that affect seniors and persons with disabilities.

 What the Election Outcome Means in Congress

The House has remained in Republican control—about 45% Democrat and 55% Republican.

Read more . . .

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Elder Care Law in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama Offers Important Strategies for Dementia Patients


Elder care lawyers work with families to prepare for any number of situations in the estate planning process.  One circumstance which is especially relevant to elder care law is dementia.  After all, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are almost exclusively conditions which appear or worsen with age. 

Along with the emotional turmoil on the patient and family members, dementia also takes quite a financial toll.  Alzheimer’s and related illnesses are typically degenerative, progressing slowly over time, while requiring considerable medical and personal care.  Elder care lawyers in Birmingham have experience helping clients create plans which provide for both the medical and the quality-of-life aspects of these expenses.

Of course, early planning is of utmost importance.  If it is suspected that you or a family member is developing Alzheimer’s, estate planning and other provisions should be arranged with an elder care lawyer as soon as possible.  A dementia patient’s mental capacity will decline, and in order for predefined wishes to be followed, his or her current capacity cannot be in question.  Getting started as soon as an issue is suspected is one of the best ways to ensure having the greatest say in the future.

Because of the progression of the disease, some of the most important decisions to be made are those of a medical nature.  For example, a “health care proxy” needs to be drawn up to designate a trustworthy person to make medical decisions for the patient when he or she is no longer able to do so.  If this person is not chosen in advance, it is likely the courts will need to appoint one at a later date.  Again, taking care of this issue with an elder care lawyer  now means that you have more control over what happens later.

Asset protection is another major concern for dementia patients here in Birmingham.  The physical progression of Alzheimer’s can take many years, while the mental progression may be much faster.  This means the individual may require specialized care (including monitoring, nursing, and other personal needs) for a very long time, therefore depleting existing finances.  Learning how to maximize the value of assets now can vastly affect the quality of care one can afford later.  There is also concern regarding estate planning, as the costs associated with dementia can easily wipe out any potential inheritance unless the proper plans have been put into place.

When it comes to elder care, it makes good sense to seek a qualified attorney who can help navigate the ins and outs of the system as it relates the special needs of those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  If you are ready to get started, simply call either our Birmingham or Montgomery estate planning and elder law firm and ask to schedule a Long Term Care Planning meeting with the mention of this article.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama Wills and Estates Lawyer Answers, “What Happens to a Person’s Debts When They Die?”

Mortgages, loans, credit cards, even medical bills…nearly every wills and estates lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama is asked about what happens to a person’s debt when they die.  It doesn’t seem quite fair for your descendants to be saddled with your debt, but it also doesn’t seem fair for creditors not to get the money that is owed to them, either.

There are a couple of scenarios which may play out when someone dies with debt.  Both require the effort of the Personal Representative (or executor) and are based on your estate.

First, if your estate in Jefferson, Shelby and Montgomery County is solvent, then debts will be paid from that before heirs get their share.  “Solvent” refers to the fact that the assets of the estate add up to be worth as much as or more than the amount of debt owed.  So, if the deceased’s estate is worth $50,000 and he or she has debts totaling $25,000, the estate would be solvent.  After the debt is paid off, the remainder of the estate can be distributed to the heirs.

If, however, the estate doesn’t hold enough value to pay for outstanding debts, it is considered “insolvent.”  In these cases, the Personal Representative will have to spend some time going through the debts, possibly with an attorney, to prioritize which debts get paid first, in full, partially, or not at all.  There are state and federal laws which help to determine how this process works.  For example, state and federal regulations may state that medical bills take priority over credit card debt.

In situations where the estate is insolvent here in Alabama, the heirs will not be entitled to the assets, even if there was a will or trust in place.  On the other hand, they do not have to take on the responsibility of paying for the debt, which is at least a relief.  Still, it can certainly be a disappointment to discover that the home or other assets your kids expected to inherit will have to be sold off to pay for debts instead.  In some states adult children may be expected to pay outstanding nursing home costs.

According to USA Today, more and more baby boomers and seniors are living in debt.  There are several potential reasons for this, from medical and funeral expenses to unrealistic expectations about what is “deserved” at that point in life.  Unfortunately, the final outcome often ends up costing your heirs some or all of their inheritance.

In order to ensure that your estate is solvent—or better yet, to leave no debt behind for your Personal Representative and heirs to deal with—it’s a great idea to work with your Alabama wills and estates attorney to set payoff goals and keep yourself and your estate on track. To get started with this process, simply call our Alabama law firm toll-free at  (877) 277-3557and asked to schedule a complimentary consultation with the mention of this article.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Canterbury Beeson - Forum on Aging

I enjoyed leading two sessions at the Canterbury Beeson Forum on Aging. For a CBS 42 video and article click here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Life's 5 Most Important Lessons

I came across this article from a survey of seniors. Thought you might enjoy. Click here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

WAPI 1070 AM

Ben will be the guest on the Matt Murphy show Tuesday June 30th to discuss Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefits. Link

The Attorneys of ElderLaw Advocates assist clients in Birmingham, Alabama as well as Hoover, Homewood, Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Trussville, Gardendale, Irondale, Columbiana, Pelham, and Chelsea in Jefferson County and Shelby County. They also assist clients in Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Prattville, Huntsville, Decatur, Sheffield, Muscle Shoals and Florence, Alabama.

© 2017 R.F. (Ben) Stewart III, Esq. | Disclaimer
1800 Providence Park, 250, Birmingham, Al 35242
| Phone: (205) 803-6724

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