Common Elder Law Questions

Q. What is the difference between a Durable Power of Attorney and a Conservator?
A. A durable power of attorney is a written authorization in which a person appoint another to represent or act on their behalf as their agent, for financial or health decision or both.  A conservator is a person who has been appointed by the court to have control and the legal authority for the personal care wellbeing and medical treatment of another person.  A conservator may be appointed over the person, the property of the person or both.

Q. In a decedent’s estate what is a personal representative?
A.  A personal representative is the fiduciary who is in charge of settling a deceased person’s estate.   They are appointed to act in that role by the probate judge.  Other names for this role are executor, executrix, administrator, or administratrix.

Q. My mother recently died, the only asset she owned individually was her car, do I need to probate her estate?
A. No, if a decedent dies with no probate assets, (nothing in their name alone) except for  one or more motor vehicles, title to the vehicles can be transferred at  your local county clerk’s office.  You will need to submit the title certificate, copy of the death certificate, Affidavit of Inheritance (form RV-F1310501) and a completed odometer disclosure statement.

Q. How much will Social Security increase in 2016?
A.  There will be no increase in benefits next year. The annual cost of living adjustment or COLA,  is based on a government measure of inflation.  

Q. How do I tell an elderly loved one that it is time to stop driving? 
A. Driving is one of the ultimate symbols of independence,  Giving up that independence and control could cause an aging parent or loved one to feel trapped.  As people grow older, having conversation with them about important aspects of their lives such as driving can be very difficult.   Some older persons may refuse to stop driving or even reduce driving despite recent accidents.  However, these conversations are necessary for their safety and wellbeing,  That is why including an experienced elder law attorney, in these discussions gives your family the expert advice and peace of mind needed to make these important decisions.

Q. When should I review estate plan documents?
A. While there is no specific rule as to when to review estate plan documents, you and your estate planning attorney should review estate plan documents periodically to make sure the documents are still accomplishing the goals and desires you set out when they were created,  I would suggest you review estate plans annually or any time you experience a life changing event, for example: a change in personal circumstances,  change in assets, or changes involving your intended beneficiaries.  




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