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The Different Approaches to Elder Law Issues: Proactive v. Reactive

As discussed in an earlier post, more and more families are facing difficult legal and financial issues affecting their aging family members. Fortunately, elder law attorneys have focused their legal practice to specifically serve seniors and their families facing these challenges. Typically, there are two ways to approach the legal hurdles of seniors today. The first approach is proactive, while the second approach is reactive.

The proactive approach, or classic approach, includes advanced planning with the appropriate professionals (accountants, attorneys, financial planners, etc.) and the preparation of the appropriate documents. These documents include a financial power of attorney, health care power of attorney/living will, and a last will and testament and asset protection trusts. (All to be discussed in a later post). The drafting of these documents can be advantageous as it will allow you to maintain control of your affairs according to your wishes. Being proactive in these matters is less inexpensive and more time efficient than the reactive approach.

Unfortunately, the more common approach to dealing with elder law issues is the reactive approach. The reactive approach commences with a sudden and unfortunate event, such as a hospitalization, a loved one becoming incapacitated and has not prepared a power of attorney, or the realization that nursing facility care is necessary. Once these sudden events occur, reactive measures must be executed. Often this is done through the court appointment of a guardian and/or last minute Medicaid planning. Typically, the reactive approach is more expensive and time consuming with fewer options available for solving problems.

A knowledgeable elder law attorney can help you make the right decisions for the future of you and your loved ones.


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