When living persons are no longer able to care for themselves and make life care decisions, a proceeding must be commenced in probate court to obtain a conservatorship and guardianship. This is often referred to as “Living Probate”. We first look at more private and cost effective alternatives to guardianships and conservatorships. If these alternatives are unavailable, we can help you petition the court for and maintain these court -supervised adult protection mechanisms.
There is no more difficult a situation, than that which involves the sudden, or even gradual, disability of a loved one. It is best to plan for that disability before it renders a person unable to participate in decisions regarding their financial affairs and healthcare. The truth is that every adult should have a plan in place with a minimum of a durable power of attorney for financial affairs and a health care advocate power of attorney for healthcare decisions.
If a plan is not in place and a person becomes disabled the family is left with pursuit of a guardianship and conservatorship in the probate court. This is an expensive with ongoing public court supervision. Our planning services allow you to avoid this situation, save money, and maintain family privacy.
For more information on guardianships and conservatorships please visit our probate page.
When a person dies with property solely in their name that property must be distributed through their probate estate under the purview of the probate court. We can help with getting a probate estate established in the probate court and assisting in the administration of the probate estate to assure proper settlement and distribution of that estate in as swift a manner as the law allows.
When a Trust is created, the person who is appointed Trustee must manage the property that the trust owns. This person has many legal obligations and the failure to meet those obligations can result in significant legal liability. We assist in the administration of trusts so that trustee obligations can be properly met while furthering the wishes of the person(s) who established the trust, as well as the interests of those who are to benefit from that Trust.
- Free initial consultation
- We are a law firm that specializes in elder law, estate planning, and probate. We help people to plan for disability and death in a way that keeps their families out of court.
- We visit clients with mobility issues at their residence-home, nursing home, assisted living, hospice, hospital. We are set up for this. Our public benefits coordinator is a public notary who assists me on every visit at no extra charge. Our law firm gives lots of added value
- We have weekend and evening appointments available. People who work may also benefit from the convenience of not missing work and having a meeting at their residence instead of visiting a law office.
- Our fees are very competitive (lower than average) and fixed fees for estate planning documents
- Estate planning documents are customized for long-term care planning and prepared by our elder law attorney
- All legal work done by our attorney –not delegated to a legal assistant
- Our attorney along with our public benefits coordinator help people navigate the complex medical, legal, bureaucratic, and financial systems. Our public benefits coordinator has an extensive resource network and assists clients in finding exactly what they need in a timely manner.
- Families often disagree about long term planning issues, housing, finances etc. -especially in unexpected situations. We are trained and effective mediators who can help families deal with these matters
- Our public benefits coordinator has a healthcare background. She assists with Medicare issues, Veterans Benefits, ALTCS applications, understanding clients’ medical conditions, capacity, and caregiver issues
- ALTCS planning and applications-preserve assets for loved ones
- We keep families informed and give a high level of personal attention
Leaving property to your family is a goal for many people. We can prepare documents that would allow you to maintain control of your home and allow your family to acquire ownership of it without going through probate.
Buying or Selling a home can be very complicated and expensive – even if using a real estate agent. Many situations can cause expensive issues such as inspections. Having a good real estate attorney to protect your interests can save time and expense , as well as reduce your stress. After all, buying or selling a home is the most expensive transaction most people deal with in their lifetime.
A Special Needs Trust is a way to protect the assets of a special needs person and avoid being disqualified for public funding and benefits. Most ALTCS and Social Security government programs require that participants are low income and have little money. Funds in the trust can be used to enhance their quality of life. Family members can leave money to the Trust and not worry about affecting the eligibility for benefits.
When a special needs person becomes 18 years of age, his or her parents do not have legal authority to help their loved one with everyday life and financial decision making. Like any adult, this person is on their own legally and financially. For example, during minority, the parents take care of all special needs planning, particularly in regards to education, with involvement in processes such as development of Individual Education Plans (IEPs).
The first thing a special needs person with less than $2,000 in property should do on turning 18 years of age is to apply for Social Security Disability under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program administered by the U.S. Social Security Administration. Once SSI benefits are obtained, the special needs person is automatically eligible for ALTCS benefits (upon applying to the ALTCS – Arizona Long Term Care System) which opens the door to valuable community health resources, particularly in the area of mental health, that are not otherwise accessible. IEPs developed during the schools years are actually an excellent tool that can assist in establishing eligibility for that program. This is just one of a number of things that need to be done when a special needs person becomes an adult. These persons need help in getting these things done. Important decisions need to be made and these persons are often not capable of making them for themselves.
Family members typically must step up and become surrogate decision-makers. A common way in which this is accomplished is through guardianship. While guardianship allows the appointed person to legally make decisions on behalf of a special needs person, it has a number of drawbacks including:
1. It eliminates the right of the special needs person to make decisions for themselves. A long standing principle in this field is to impose the least restrictive requirements possible;
2. It is a public (court process) record of developmental disability that travels with that person forever (potential stigmatization);.
3. It is an expensive (attorneys, legal costs) and time consuming process.
Unfortunately guardianships are sometimes necessary, often because of a lack of planning. For families who exercise the foresight to plan, there are alternatives to guardianships, such as powers of attorneys, which can serve to eliminate the concerns enumerated above and pave the way for an enhanced quality of life.