Hospice is an approach to medical care for patients nearing the end of their life. The goal is to enhance the quality of life for patients who have a terminal illness.
With that in mind, Hospice focuses on pain management and symptom relief while addressing the patient’s emotional, social and spiritual needs, as well as the needs of their family members. Hospice lets patients and their families share their end-of-life experience with dignity, and in most cases, in the comfort of their own homes.
If you or a loved one is in Hospice, the ability to make informed decisions may decrease over time. Making informed decisions about personal, business and health care issues may become more difficult, or even impossible.
There is often a sense of urgency to “get things done quickly”.
Fortunately, proper planning will assure that things are handled according to your and your loved one’s wishes, and that you have taken the best steps possible to protect your loved ones and your family.
There are often legal issues which arise at this time. There may be decisions to make on how to handle things ranging from health care, to management of finances, the distribution of personal and real property, upon the passing of your loved one.
Following is a list of some of the reasons why it is important to work with a seasoned Elder Law Attorney, who is specifically skilled in helping families during this difficult time:
- It’s important to deal with an attorney who concentrates his or her practice on these types of issues. Helping families through this difficult time takes a special set of skills. Not only is it important to have an attorney who understands the technical part of the law, but it is also critical to have an attorney who understands the emotional aspects. You want someone you will be comfortable with, and someone who has provided the services to countless families going through the same issues you and your family face now.
- The attorney’s staff must also be well trained. Hospice caseworkers are a special group of people. Once you have dealt with them, you quickly find that to be true. And while it is important to deal with an attorney who is sensitive and understands the issues you are facing, it is also crucial to deal with an attorney whose practice is geared toward helping you and your loved ones.
- You want an attorney who understands the government programs that are available to you. In this day and age, it is difficult for any professional to know all there is to know about any given topic. That is especially true when it comes to issues of government benefits like Medicare and Medicaid. It is important that you deal with an attorney who works frequently in this area and who is used to dealing with the State. You need an attorney who knows how to navigate these challenges to help you and your family.
- It is important to deal with an attorney who knows how to help you to protect your assets. No matter the size of your Estate, you worked hard to earn it. It is important to you and it is important to your family that you pass along as much of it as possible. When selecting an attorney, be sure that he or she is knowledgeable on how to help you arrange things so that you receive the care you need and so that your assets will be preserved for your family to the greatest extent allowed by law.
- How to avoid Probate. For many Hospice patients, one of the most important concerns in the event of their death, is the distribution of their estate to their loved one’s without the stress of a lengthy Probate process. There are many ways to accomplish this, ranging from simple beneficiary designations, to gifting strategies, to trust planning and so on. It is important that you deal with an attorney who understands the various ways that property can transfer from an estate, and who can show you how to arrange your assets through comprehensive Estate Planning.
- It is important to work with an attorney who knows the value of a dollar. One of the biggest grievance people have in dealing with legal professionals is that they feel like they are “on the clock” and will be charged extra for every question they ask, and every phone call they make. This is where retaining an attorney who offers a flat-fee schedule is ideal. Be a smart consumer and get the most for your dollar, while making sure that things are handled in the most appropriate manner.
- Select an attorney who makes house calls. Clients on Hospice are unlike interacting with most other clients, and areas of legal practice. Usually the family has to go to the attorney’s office for a consultation. Not only can this be stressful, but it also takes a lot of time. An Elder Law Attorney who deals with Hospice will make house calls when needed. This makes things easier on the family, especially in the late stages, since often times Hospice patients have great difficulty getting around.
All of these reasons are why it is important to work with an attorney who practices in this important area of the law and who has the sensitivity to the needs of Hospice patients and their families. An attorney with whom you can discuss your concerns with, and who understands Hospice and the special challengers a life threatening illness can present.
If you would like a consultation with an Elder Law Attorney who has been in practice for over 27 years, and has helped hundreds of local families deal with these types of issues, please contact our offices.