Elder Law FAQ

Focused Experience In Elder Law

If your parents are “getting on in years,” they may need help to put plans in place. If their physical or mental health has taken a dramatic turn for the worse, they may need intervention.

Fletcher Family Law, LLC, provides experienced counsel in elder law and estate planning to protect elderly loved ones and preserve family wealth. For answers to your specific legal questions, call 303-741-8971 to arrange a consultation.

What is power of attorney and what responsibilities come with this title?

Power of attorney is the legal authority to act on behalf of a person who is not able to manage their own affairs. There are two main types of power of attorney in Colorado:

  • Financial power of attorney This gives the principal (designated person) power to manage the agent’s financial and property-related matters.
  • Medical power of attorney This gives the principal power to make medical decisions on behalf of the agent.

Typically, power of attorney is granted to a family member or trusted friend. It can either be effective on a specific date or at a future point when the person is deemed by a physician to be incapacitated. “Durable power of attorney” means the decision-making authority endures indefinitely until the person recovers or passes. A limited power of attorney applies only to specific things that have been granted by the agent.

What is the purpose of an advance directive?

An advance directive, also known as a health care directive or “living will,” expresses a person’s wishes regarding end-of-life matters. For example, it may say yes to resuscitation and other heroic measures, but no to artificial life support in the event of coma or brain death. The advance directive gives specific guidance to medical professionals and takes the burden off of spouses and family members faced with wrenching decisions.

What is the difference between guardianship and conservatorship?

A guardian looks after the personal well-being of the ward, such as health care and living arrangements. A conservator looks after the ward’s property and financial interests. Sometimes the duties are appointed separately and sometimes one person serves both roles.

Who may be appointed as a conservator or guardian?

The only legal criterion is that the person must be 21 or older. No special skills or training are required. The most important quality is that the nominee can be trusted to act in the best interests of the ward.

What types of guardianships are there in Colorado?

There are two types of guardianships in Colorado:

  • Adult guardianships Put in place in situations where an adult becomes incapacitated and requires physical care and power over financial matters.
  • Minor guardianships Put in place when a minor child requires care because his or her parents are not able to care for them either because they have lost parental rights or because of death.

When does a guardianship or conservatorship end?

An appointment as guardian or conservator can be terminated if the person recovers from health problems or is deemed mentally competent. Otherwise, guardianship/conservatorship terminates upon the ward’s death.

When might I need assistance from an attorney regarding a guardianship or conservatorship?

Because of the complexity of the law, it’s always a good idea to retain the services of an attorney when serving as a guardian or conservator. However, there are very specific situations in which speaking with an attorney is required:

  • Filling out reporting forms Court clerks by law are not allowed to give out legal advice concerning the forms nor are they allowed to help you fill them out.
  • Business situations If the ward is a business owner, co-owner or in another business arrangement, you will want to speak with an attorney to ensure you are complying with all applicable state and federal laws.

What other things should I think about as I or my parents age?

The advancements in medical science mean we are able to live longer, which also means more need for medical care as we age and more expenses as well. This is why it’s important for people to consider and make plans for:

  • Long-term care — Whether you choose a nursing home, assisted living facility, in-home care or a different arrangement, planning for this added expense is incredibly important since it can impact the carefully laid plans of an estate plan.
  • Medicare and Medicaid planning — Understanding eligibility requirements, how to maintain eligibility as one ages, and at what age it is best to start making plans are all crucial pieces of information to have since programs like Medicare and Medicaid can help offset the cost of long-term care and medical expenses that might otherwise come out of your pocket.

We Can Answer All Your Questions

Fletcher Family Law, LLC, invites you to schedule a consultation with our experienced attorney about elder law and related estate matters. Call 303-741-8971 or contact us online. Our Centennial law firm serves the Denver metro area.