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 the 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.
There are often legal issues which arise at this time. There may be decisions to make on how to handle things ranging from healthcare decision making to financial management, to how your property should pass at your death. Following is a list of some of the reasons why it’s important to deal with an attorney skilled in helping families during this difficult time.
1. It’s important to deal with an attorney who concentrates his or her practice on these 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’s 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 other families going through the same issues you and your family face now.
2. You want an attorney who understands the government programs that are available to you. In this day and age, it’s difficult for any professional to know all there is to know about any given topic. That’s especially true when it comes to issues of government benefits like Medi-Cal. It’s 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 help you and your family.
3. It’s important to deal with an attorney who knows how to help you to protect your life’s savings. No matter the size of your estate, you worked hard to earn it. It’s important to you and it’s 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 the law.
4. How to avoid probate - For many hospice patients, one of the most important concerns in the even of their death is that they want their estate to pass to their loved ones without going through probate. 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 passes, and who can show you how to arrange your estate to avoid probate where that is appropriate.
5. It is important to work with an attorney who knows the value of a dollar. One of the biggest gripes 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 or every time they pick up the phone. Where possible, you should consider an attorney who works on a flat fee basis. Ideally, you want someone who will not charge for the initial phone call or consultation, and then who will tell you to the penny exactly what will be involved and what the cost will be. That way you can be a smart consumer and get the most for your dollar, while making sure that things are handled in the most appropriate manner.
All of these are reasons why it is important to deal with someone who practices in this important area of the law and who has a sensitivity to the needs of hospice patients and their families. If you or a loved one is on hospice, the ability to make financial and healthcare decisions may decrease over time. Making informed decisions about personal, business and healthcare issues may become more difficult or even impossible.
Fortunately, proper planning will assure that things are handled according to your wishes and that you’ve taken the best steps possible to protect your loved ones and to protect your family.
All of these are reasons why it is important to deal with someone who practices in this important area of the law and who has a sensitivity to the needs of hospice patients and their families. If you would like a free initial consultation with an elder law attorney, please contact The Law Offices of Michael J. Young at (925) 256-0298.
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