Should I get long-term care insurance?

Depending on your age and health, a long-term care policy that covers home health care, assisted living, and nursing home care can be a good option, as these care costs are quite expensive and can quickly deplete a lifetime of hard-earned assets. However, long-term care insurance also tends to be expensive and difficult to obtain and thus is not the right option for everyone.

What are the options for long-term care?

Long-term care can be provided not only in a skilled nursing facility (nursing home) but in many other settings. Home health care is increasingly popular, allowing seniors to remain independent as long as possible. Assisted living facilities offer an intermediate alternative between home health care and nursing homes and provide some monitoring and medical care in a home-like environment. Continuing care retirement communities and retirement communities with memory care units may work well for seniors with fluctuating needs or dementia, as they can move among sections of the community as their health condition changes.

My spouse has dementia. Do I need to file for a guardian or conservatorship?

It depends on the circumstances and the degree to which the spouse is mentally impaired. If your spouse executed a properly crafted durable power of attorney and health care proxy giving you the authority to make financial and healthcare decisions you may be able to delay, and possibly completely avoid, seeking court intervention. Note that a failing spouse cannot execute a durable power of attorney or health care proxy if he or she is legally incompetent, in which case court intervention will be required. Also note that simply because someone has been diagnosed with dementia does not mean that they are legally incompetent. 

What is the difference between a guardian and a conservator?

In a nutshell, guardians are appointed by the court to make healthcare related decisions for an incompetent person. Conservators are similar except they are only empowered to make financial decisions for the person. In an appropriate situation the court may appoint someone to fill both roles.

What is elder law? What is an elder law attorney?

Elder law is an umbrella term that encompasses nearly any legal issue that aging individuals regularly face. In the elder law arena, our office primarily engages in planning to preserve assets from the nursing home, as well as filing and litigating applications to obtain MassHealth nursing home benefits. We also litigate guardianship and conservatorship petitions.