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Re: Legal & financial considerations for an 86 year-old neighbor with no relatives

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@sm5059 wrote:

I am concerned with the mental/physical health of my 86-year-old neighbor. Her one relative, a 65 year old nephew, is geographically and emotionally unavailable to attend to her immediate needs. I have willingly become her health advocate. She is dependent on me to ensure that she meets her doctor visits. I don’t believe that she has a will or the legal documents needed to protect her interests, e.g., power of attorney, financial/property interests, DNR wishes, etc., etc. I have Not interested in assuming guardianship. Before it’s too late, I want her to make cogent decisions, I want to “gently” suggest that she employ the services of an attorney who specializes in senior care. Suggestions welcomed. I want to protect her interests as best I can. Thanks for your input


Wow, what a lucky woman she is!

 

Another thought, and less expensive than an attorney, is a geriatric care manager, who is usually a seasoned nurse or social worker to guide you and your neighbor through the steps necessary to give her the dignified choices for end of life care that we all deserve. There's a national organization that will give you both ideas on whom to hire: http://www.aginglifecare.org/. The price varies but usually at least 1/3 less expensive than a lawyer. She does need an attorney for some tasks. 

 

Some areas of the USA have enough services to have a free social worker come to the home to talk to your neighbor about services in her community. You can find the agency that is supposed to provide services for folks 60 and older at www.eldercare.gov.  In Washington DC where i used to work, a social worker would come to the home for an 'at risk elder' to see what is needed, and to arrange for care if that was needed. An information visit would be a great first step. Her taxpayer dollars at work!

 

Thank you for being such a wonderful neighbor and please keep writing so we can learn as you learn!

 

Jane

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Re: Legal & financial considerations for an 86 year-old neighbor with no relatives

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Hello sm5059:  Thank you for your post and your willingness to assist a friend and neighbor.  You're absolutely on the correct track; a licensed elder law attorney can be of tremendous benefit for your friend at this time.  They can assist with legal documents, public benefits, aging in place and facility recommendations, and so much more. 

 

You mentioned you are concerned with your friend's mental (and physical) health.  Does your friend have dementia or cognitive decline, or is some other issue presenting itself?  It is important that she have decision-making ability and competence to understand the legal documents the lawyer may recommend.  The lawyer is likely to follow due diligence measures to ensure that this is the case. 

 

It may be of benefit to have the nephew involved if you are going to make these suggestions, particularly if you are going to continue to assist your friend.  That way, if she names you in any legal documents, there will be less of an appearance that you had any undue influence in her decision to use an attorney. 

 

If there is some greater mental health issue/self-neglect going on and there simply isn't an option for you or a family member or friend to help her, you do always have the option of contacting your state adult protective services.  They can intervene to make sure your friend gets the assistance she needs.

 

Elder "orphans" are not an uncommon in our society and with the Boomer population aging, there are likely to be many more over the next few decades.  If you or someone you know anticipate this being your situation, plan ahead!  Here is an article to get you started:  https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/basics/info-2017/tips-aging-alone.html

 

For those reading this post, are you willing to share how you've planned to be an elder orphan and are you willing to share your experiences or stories of seniors you know who did not have legal documents in place and ended up needing adult protective services or an emergency guardianship? I'll talk more about guardianships and the adult protective services procedures in my state (Florida) in future posts. 

 

Thank you for reaching out, sm5059, and to anyone who wants to chime in on this thread. 

 

With best regards,

Amanda  

Amanda Singleton, J.D.
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Legal & financial considerations for an 86 year-old neighbor with no relatives

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I am concerned with the mental/physical health of my 86-year-old neighbor. Her one relative, a 65 year old nephew, is geographically and emotionally unavailable to attend to her immediate needs. I have willingly become her health advocate. She is dependent on me to ensure that she meets her doctor visits. I don’t believe that she has a will or the legal documents needed to protect her interests, e.g., power of attorney, financial/property interests, DNR wishes, etc., etc. I have Not interested in assuming guardianship. Before it’s too late, I want her to make cogent decisions, I want to “gently” suggest that she employ the services of an attorney who specializes in senior care. Suggestions welcomed. I want to protect her interests as best I can. Thanks for your input

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