Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Who Should I Select As My Agent(s) for Powers of Attorney?

You should select a competent person over the age of eighteen as your agent. It is important that you trust the person you appoint because of the powers you are giving to them. Your agent may be your spouse, child, sibling, or close friend. It is a good idea to name multiple agents in case one of the agents is unable or unwilling to act on your behalf. The agents you name can act in succession or make decisions jointly if you think they are capable of reaching an agreement.

The agent you name in your financial power of attorney should be financially responsible. You should sit down with the agent you appoint for your financial power of attorney and discuss your financial affairs. You should inform your agent about your bank accounts, loans, credit card accounts, investments, insurance policies, bills, and anything else you would like for them to handle on your behalf.

The agent you name to act on your behalf in your advance medical directive should be a person who will be able to make potentially difficult decisions about your medical care. Make sure your chosen agent is aware of your wishes for care.

Finally, make sure any agent that you appoint is able to handle the duties of the job and willing to act on your behalf.
Written by Heather W. Winter, Esquire

Monday, April 20, 2015

What is a Revocable Living Trust and Why Would I want to Use One?

     A trust is a legal arrangement where a person called a trustee holds assets on behalf of one or more beneficiaries. The trust document will state the rules that the person making the trust wants the trustee to follow when managing the trust property. A revocable living trust is created during the lifetime of the person making the trust. The trust names a trustee who holds title to the trust property and performs the day-to-day management of the trust. The creator of the trust retains the power to revoke the trust and take back the assets. The creator may also change the trust terms during their lifetime. The creator of the revocable trust is often a trustee and a beneficiary of the trust during his or her lifetime. 

     A person may want to create a revocable trust to have a plan in place if they ever become unable to manage their own assets. If the creator of the trust becomes unable to serve as their own trustee for health or other reasons, a successor trustee is named in the trust document. The successor trustee will then manage the trust for the creator’s benefit according to the instructions in the trust document. The trustee invests the assets prudently, and pays the creator’s debts and living expenses. The living trust is generally safer than a general power of attorney for purposes of managing the creator’s property in the event of his or her incapacity. The successor trustee can also continue trust administration without delay upon the creator’s incapacity.

     Assets held in a revocable trust during the creator’s lifetime, or paid to the trust at the creator’s death by beneficiary designation, are not included in the creator’s probate estate. This could result in reducing the expenses of estate administration. A revocable trust also keeps the creator’s assets private because the trust document is private, unlike a will, which is a recorded public document. A person who is considering setting up a revocable living trust should talk to an experienced attorney who can advise them whether this type of trust would be beneficial for them.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Should I Become Mom or Dad's Legal Guardian?

As our parents become older, one of the most noticeable changes is their inability to think as clearly as they once did. Unfortunately, in some cases it becomes so severe that they are unable to make important decisions on things such as their health and medical treatment. If your parent is unable to handle matters himself or herself, you may need to consider guardianship. Just as with a child, you can act as your adult parent’s legal guardian.

Petitioning for guardianship is a serious matter and involves taking legal action. If a judge finds that your parent is incapacitated, he or she may appoint you as guardian to make personal and health care decisions for your parent. In guardianship proceedings, “incapacitated” means that the parent is incapable of meeting their health, care, safety, or therapeutic needs without the assistance or protection of another person. An incapacitated person may be a person who has a physical or mental problem that prevents them from taking care of their basic needs and they are in danger of substantial harm.

The legal guardian makes everyday decisions about how the parent lives. These decisions include decisions about health and medical treatment, where the person lives, and their social activities. It is the guardian’s responsibility to act in the best interest of the parent. This can be a difficult subject to discuss among your family. While you may believe that your parent lacks the mental capacity they once had, they may not feel this way. They may feel extremely dependent and vulnerable because they can no longer handle their own lives. This can cause turmoil between a parent and adult child and can go as far as the elderly parent appointing an attorney to object the guardianship. In other circumstances, if there are multiple children involved, there may be a dispute as to who will become mom or dad’s legal guardian.

Written by Heather W. Winter, Esquire

Monday, April 6, 2015

What are the Options for Living Facilities for Mom and Dad?

Whether the search for housing is due to a serious medical condition or the desire for a lifestyle change, finding the right place to live can be both stressful and challenging for the senior and their family. There are many options to consider when looking at housing facilities for mom and dad. Four options that you may want to consider are Senior Apartments, Assisted Living, Group Homes, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities.

Senior Apartments are subsidized apartments for low-income elders who are still independent. They are completely specialized to take care of the needs of the elderly. Because they cater to low-income elders, they are usually run by a charitable organization or the government.

Another option is an assisted living facility. An assisted living facility provides a small amount of supervision, but residents still have a great deal of independence. The facility provides help and support when needed throughout the day, including minor help with medications. Most facilities like this provide a wide array of services as well as daily activities to keep the residents active. Assisted living may be a good choice if the senior needs more personal care services than what could feasibly be provided at home and the senior doesn’t need continuous medical care and supervision.

Group Homes are home facilities where an elder has a roommate that he or she lives with. The facility usually provides housekeeping, but does not necessarily provide any type of health care. The group home is ideal for companionship and splits expenses between the two that live together.

Finally, there are Continuing Care Retirement Communities to consider. Continuing Care Retirement Communities are complexes that provide all types of care and housing. The facilities typically include independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care in one location, so the senior can stay in the same facility as their needs change over time. This is ideal for many elders who want to continue their independence, have a large group of people to interact with, and to have an array of activities to participate in. This type of community is also ideal for those who have a spouse who requires a higher level of care or who would like to live and age in one specific facility until they pass away.

We encourage you to contact the Virginia Department for the Aging or any other contact that may be able to help you decide what facility would be best for your elderly parent.

Written by Heather W. Winter, Esquire

Thursday, April 2, 2015

World Autism Awareness Day

Today, April 2, 2015, marks the eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day. Autism affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys. Hall & Hall joins the effort to inspire compassion, empowerment and hope by wearing blue on World Autism Awareness Day. For more information about autism, please visit:

Written by Heather W. Winter, Esquire