The elderly face unique legal issues.  State and federal laws affecting the elderly are complicated and constantly changing. The experienced attorneys of Curran Law Office can assist you with these important concerns. We take pride in our dedication to serving the needs of the elderly and their families.

In addition to handling all aspects of Estate Planning, Curran Law also helps families navigate the following complicated legal issues which affect the elderly:

  • Guardianships
  • Conservatorships
  • Protective Placement
  • Medicaid and Medicare
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Social Security
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Advance Directives

Common Questions

Do you have questions about Elder Law or Guardianship in Wisconsin?

See below for answers to common questions

How does elder law differ from general law practice?

Elder law is a subspecialty of estate planning. Elder law attorneys help individuals and their families plan for retirement benefits, healthcare and long-term care, Medicaid and Medicare coverage, and home care and nursing home care. We also help with decision-making documents and provide guidance on other legal issues for seniors and people with disabilities. We provide clients and their families with a more holistic approach because we spend a lot of time learning about their needs and wants. Our work is not just a transaction. We work with a team that includes financial planners, accountants, insurance agents and other professionals to design and implement an appropriate plan for each client.

At what age should a person contact an elder law attorney?

There really is no right or wrong age, but by age 60 you should start the planning process. The longer you wait, the more you run the risk of your money not being protected, or you may lose your capacity to make decisions because of health issues. We also recommend that our clients do multigenerational planning by helping their kids start estate plans, for example, when they are in their 30s with young children.

How much preparation is required on my part?

We help address concerns and streamline solutions so there will not be issues with your estate and family later. We provide clients with a Questionnaire that they can take home and carefully fill out at their own pace. We know all the questions to ask so that we can carefully walk you through the planning process.

What is estate planning and why is it needed?

Simply put, effective estate planning is the best way to ensure that you will be able to control your property while you’re alive and well, provide for your loved ones and yourself if you become disabled, and leave your assets when you die to whom you want, when you want, and the way you want. Every state has laws that govern what becomes of your assets if you die or become disabled. But through estate planning, you can establish your own set of rules.

What is a “Power of Attorney”

A “Power of Attorney” is a legal document that authorizes someone else to make legal decisions on your behalf regarding your property, investments, debts, and accounts.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

The word “durable” means that the Power of Attorney continues (i.e., it “endures”) if you become incompetent.

What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

It is a legal document that empowers someone else to make health care decisions for you in the event that you have lost the capacity to make those decisions yourself, due to some disability.

Do I lose any rights when I make a power of attorney?

No. A power of attorney simply allows a designated person, who you trust, to exercise the rights that are provided in the power of attorney document. While powers of attorney often cover a broad range of matters, you can craft a power of attorney as narrowly as you choose. The power of attorney does not cause you to surrender any rights, and you may cancel or change your power of attorney at any time, provided you remain competent to do so.

What about planning for a disabled or dependent child?

Some government benefits are based upon the assets owned by the beneficiary.  If a beneficiary inherits assets from you, that beneficiary may lose his or her government benefits.  In such cases, you might want to set up a “special needs trust” (SNT) to hold the child’s inheritance so that the child does not lose government benefits when he or she receives an inheritance.

What about end-of-life care?

We see people through the health process including setting up advance directives and a medical power of attorney. We ask lots of questions about life support and whether you want to be an organ donor.

Do you help with funeral arrangements?

We help guide you by asking if you want to be buried or cremated; and if you have had more than one marriage, we ask which spouse you want to be buried with. We tell people to preplan funeral and burial arrangements now so everybody knows what you want.

What about appointing personal representatives?

You can appoint one or more personal representatives in your Will.  We talk with you about who you want to serve as your representatives. Are they responsible and trustworthy? Is their spouse going to get involved and do the wrong thing? If you appoint two people, can they work well together?

Can I protect my assets by just transferring them to my kids?

No. First, there is a five (5) year “look back” period during which the government can look back at all of the assets you transferred to determine if you are eligible for government benefits. Perhaps more important, if you transfer your assets to your children, those assets become subject to claims against the children. If your children get into financial trouble, those assets become available to their creditors. If your children go through divorce, those assets may become subject to division in the divorce. If your children have health problems, those assets may be sold to pay their health care bills. There may also be significant income tax, capital gain tax and gift tax consequences when you transfer property.  Finally, by transferring your assets, you are losing control of them forever.

What is a guardian?

A guardian is a person appointed by a court to manage the affairs of a person who has been determined by the court to be a minor, or an incompetent, or a spendthrift.

What is a “guardian of the estate”?

A “guardian of the estate” is a guardian appointed by a court to manage the property, income and financial affairs of another person.

What is a “guardian of the person”?

A “guardian of the person” is a guardian appointed by a court to manage the personal affairs of another person, including many life decisions facing a person, such as where to live, and where and when to seek medical care.

Is it necessary to hire an attorney to appoint a guardian?

Yes and no.  You are not required to hire an attorney to represent you to pursue the appointment of a guardian for another person.  However, the court will appoint an attorney, call a “Guardian ad Litem,” for the proposed ward.  The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is not your attorney and, therefore, cannot assist you with your prosecution of the guardianship. The GAL’s job is to represent the Ward and present the Ward’s best interests to the court.

We can help. Contact us.

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