By Timothy M. Vogel

At Vogel & Dubois our experience of helping clients through Elder Law goes back to 1983. We have developed many legal planning tools, documents and strategies to help older persons and their families. Here are key questions you can ask your clients to urge to begin thinking about how to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Who will provide for your spouse and loved ones if you are incapacitated or die? Do you have a Last Will and Testament, a Power of Attorney for Finances, a Power of Attorney for Health Care or a Trust? After your death, how will your bills be paid and property distributed?

Decision making can be crucial in the event on an accident or illness. Who do you trust to make decisions if you become disabled? How about your spouse or partner? Who would run your business?

What are your current responsibilities to your parents or other family elders? Will you become a caregiver if your parent suffers an accident or illness? Who has decision authority for your parents if one of them becomes incapacitated by illness or accident? Do they have the proper Power of Attorney documents? Will they need a Guardian or a Conservator? Can you work with brothers or sisters to help your parent?

If you—or a parent or another loved one—needs home health care, assisted living or a nursing home, how will you find, get and pay for quality care? Who pays for this care? Will it be the parent’s money and property, Medicare, Medicaid, MaineCare, or Long-Term Care Insurance? How will your spouse be supported? Will anything be left for your loved ones? What strategies will help you plan for these expenses?

Who will care for your minor children or grandchildren if both of their parents are disabled or dead? At this time, who meets the special needs—whatever they may be—of your parents, your children or grandchildren? Who will do so in the future?

What health insurance do you have? Will your health insurance continue until you get Medicare? Do you have coverage for your medications? Will you ever need MaineCare?

Are you working with a financial planner who understands your situation and goals? Do you have a list of the current value of your income, savings, investments, home, and retirement funds? Will you have funds to meet your current expenses? What if you need care services?

Does your home meet your needs? Have you considered a reverse mortgage? Where is your next move? Who will help you downsize your home and move? If you became disabled would you be safe in your home? Could you convert your home to combined housing for you and a parent or child?

Call us at Vogel & Dubois.
We can design a workable plan to bring this all together for your clients.

At Vogel & Dubois, we advise and represent clients in a number of areas:

  1. Long-term care planning. We help our clients find, get and pay for quality care. We help them find the right mix of home, family care, elder services, assisted living, rehabilitation and nursing home. We advise on payment from income, assets, Medicare, long-term care insurance, and Medicaid / MaineCare.
  2. We know the details of income and health care programs essential to many older and disabled persons: Social Security, Medicare, SSI, VA benefits, MaineCare, private health insurance and retiree health care coverage.
  3. Establish decision making authority in case you are disabled by accident, illness or aging. This is usually with a Durable Financial Power of Attorney and Power of Attorney for Health Care butsometimes a Guardian and Conservator must be appointed. We can help you prepare for personal, familyand business matters if you become incapacitated.
  4. Estate planning helps you smoothly pass your property to your loved ones through appropriate legal documents and strategies: Last Will and Testament, Revocable Living Trust, joint ownership and beneficiary designations. Our Estate Plans can help reduce or eliminate Maine and federal estate taxes. We help many second marriage and blended families build estate plans that address their situation.
  5. Helping fiduciaries perform their duties. We advise and represent agents appointed in a Power of Attorney, Personal Representatives administering an estate, and Trustees managing property. When you appoint someone you trust, we help them understand their legal authority and responsibilities.
  6. Real estate issues are of concern to many of our clients. We advise elders considering a Reverse Mortgage or selling their home. We represent real estate buyers and sellers. We prepare deeds, clear titles, and help fiduciaries sell real estate. When a real estate seller becomes incapacitated or dies, we help obtain the legal authority to complete the transaction.
  7. When appointment of a Guardian or Conservator is necessary, we petition Probate Court. We then help Guardians and Conservators carry out their duties, especially for inventories and accountings.
  8. We help families with special needs children. We create Supplemental Care Trusts to help them access health care programs while using trust funds to provide them extra care. We help arrange care and financial management when the parents are no longer able.
  9. We advise and advocate when persons face age discrimination.
  10. We provide legal planning and documents for non-married couples.
  11. We advise and represent on grandparent rights, visitation, and grandparent adoption.
  12. We advocate for physically abused or financially exploited elders. We help our clients be safe. We challenge Wills, trusts, and property transfers caused by fraud, undue influence or fiduciary misconduct.
  13. We teamwork with many professionals to meet the needs of our clients: accountant, lawyer, long term care insurance agent, financial planner, physician, geriatric care manager, real estate agent, appraiser, home moving manager, general insurance agent, banker, trust officer, investment advisor, business consultant, social worker, bookkeeper, reverse mortgage broker, in-home services, clergy, home care agency and many other elder service providers.

At Vogel & Dubois, we inspire, educate, and enable our clients to control their future before and after retirement, plan for quality care, maintain financial flexibility, and experience the resulting peace of mind.

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About the Author

TIMOTHY M. VOGEL is the senior shareholder of Vogel & Dubois. Tim became a lawyer in 1978, worked in Elder Law since 1983, and founded Maine’s first law firm focusing on Elder Law in 1989.
Tim’s current column in the Maine Lawyers Review is “MaineCare Assisted Living Transfer of Asset Rules”. He has addressed consumers and professionals throughout Maine and nationally.
Tim is past chair of the Elder Law Section of the Maine State Bar Association. He is active in the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Tim is the President of the Maine Senior Resource Alliance, www.maineseniors.org. He is a member of the Maine Gerontological Society. Tim received his B.A. degree from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and his J.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.