Elder Law

With Baby Boomers approaching their 70s and life expectancies increasing dramatically, the time is coming when one or both seniors may become physically or cognitively unable to manage their own affairs. We hope that this does not occur for a long time, but knowing that it might occur at any time, it is best to plan for these circumstances now, while fully cognizant and able to make smart decisions.

Harriette’s practice addresses the most important issues of such aging including:

Asset Protection – Given the present state of the economy, it is difficult for many people to continue to reside on Long Island as they age. Those who pre-plan will hopefully have a sufficient amount of assets to be able to enjoy the rest of their lives. However, many individuals do not engage in this type of planning until an emergency occurs. As a result, aging individuals are faced with unanticipated costs for their care. When this happens, it often becomes necessary to engage the services of a professional who is familiar with how to protect their assets to provide for their longevity and the family’s future inheritance.

Adult Guardianships – With the advance of science and medical technology, the average life expectancy has significantly increased. We are finding that many people may reach a point in their lives when they are no longer able to manage their financial matters, their personal decisions or both. When this happens, it sometimes becomes necessary for a guardian to be appointed who will make and oversee decisions concerning the personal care and assets of these elderly individuals. An adult Guardianship proceeding serves that purpose. Harriette is experienced in representing family members or friends who wish to protect the well-being of an incapacitated person in a way that also respects their dignity and privacy.

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Advance Directives: Durable Powers of Attorney, Living Wills and Health Care Proxies These are legal documents drawn by individuals regarding their financial affairs and medical treatment that will take effect when such individual is no longer able to manage these matters for themselves. They are valuable tools that are used regularly as a part of elder law planning.

  • A power of attorney authorizes someone else to act on your behalf with respect to your financial matters. By creating a durable power of attorney, the appointment stays in place even after you become physically and/or mentally incapacitated. In the case of aging individuals, it is only through a durable power of attorney that the person you appoint to act on your behalf will be legally empowered to protect your interests.
  • The purpose of a living will is to carry out your wishes regarding your medical care, including the use of life support systems at a time when you cannot make your wishes known. Not only will this document assure that your medical decisions will be made the way you want them to be made, but your loved ones will be helped by knowing your expressed wishes.
  • The health care proxy is a document that authorizes an individual to make a medically‑related decision regarding your health in the event that you are unable to do so. Should you become either physically and/or mentally disabled and therefore unable to make a decision regarding medical treatment, the proxy eliminates potentially protracted and expensive legal action by designating the person who will make medical decisions for you.

Elder Mediation – Individuals often need to deal with major life changes that are part of their aging. When conflicts arise in this endeavor, mediation is the best process to use to reach conflict resolution.

Medicaid Representation – Medicaid is a State and Federal program that helps individuals pay for medical service as either an in-patient or out-patient receiving hospital service, physicians’ services, home health services, nursing home care and some prescription drugs. The Medicaid Program has specific criteria that must be met in order for it to be activated. Knowing how to qualify under the program’s criteria, how to become eligible for the program, and how to navigate the lengthy and often frustrating application process, requires the informed skill of someone who has done it before and who can provide the sound planning advice in advance of such a need.