Elder law is the practice of legally assisting older adults by helping them understand and protect their legal rights, and maintain their dignity and independence. With advancing age, it may become more difficult for people to maintain their rights and independence, and preserve their dignity.
As an experienced Calgary elder law lawyer, I provide a number of services to prevent future problems that might negatively impact people's lives:
Planning for your family's future as well as the future of your assets is a responsible move that saves money and aggravation during difficult times. If you do not have a will, you have no control over what happens to your estate should you die. This means your estate could be administered by someone you don't trust. Without a will, your estate will also be distributed according to a government formula, not your wishes.
- Do you need a will?
- Frequently asked will questions
- Simple wills
- Mutual wills, joint wills, and mirror wills
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney gives one or more people the power to manage your property and your money for you while you are still mentally competent. Giving someone power of attorney while you are of sound mind can be very useful if you have difficulty getting around. If your adult child has power of attorney, he or she can do your banking for you, arrange for a loan for you, manage the sale and purchase of real estate for you, and more.
Enduring Power of Attorney
Should you become mentally incompetent due to illness or accident, you need to know your family can access your accounts and manage your affairs and finances easily and responsibly. With an Enduring Power of Attorney, you can appoint a trusted person to run your affairs while you are unable to do so.
In the unlikely event of an injury or illness, no one needs extra stress. A Personal Directive, or living will, is a gift to your family and friends, telling them exactly what you want so they don't have the burden of making hard decisions for you when you are unable to make them yourself.
Within your personal directive, you can state:
- Who should act for you if you cannot act on your own
- The medical treatments you are willing to receive
- The medical treatments you do not want to receive
Estate trusts are legal devices that take ownership of your assets while you are living. You still have control over the assets and you can get rid of the estate trust at any time.
Estate trusts allow you to state how and when your assets will be distributed and can reduce taxes for your heirs as well as allow you to get around the problem of probate.
In addition to the above services, we offer the following services for families and friends of older adults:
Adult Guardianship Applications
We will assist you in submitting a guardianship application to the court. Legal guardians can be appointed by the court for adults who do not have personal directives. As a guardian, you can make personal decisions for the represented adult about residence, education, healthcare, and personal care legal issues.
Family members or friends can apply to become the guardian of an adult who is not capable of making personal care decisions in his or her best interest.
It is very important that all of the guardianship forms are filled out properly and all required information is included.
Adult Trusteeship Applications
Get our assistance in submitting a trusteeship application to the court. As a trustee for a represented adult, you are able to make financial decisions for that person and have control over the person's financial assets. Trustees are appointed by the court for adults who do not have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. Persons who have an enduring power of attorney do not require trustees.
Trustees can pay the represented adult's bills, manage his or her investments, and apply for Old Age Security and other financial benefits. As a trustee, you cannot make decisions about the adult's personal care unless you are also a guardian.
Capacity Assessment Reports
The first step in applying for guardianship or trusteeship is to have the adult's capacity assessed by a professional. The assessment can be done by the adult's family doctor or another physician, a psychologist or psychiatrist, or a designated capacity assessor.
It is very important that the application is filled out properly and all required information is included. We will guide you through this process, ensure it is done correctly, and submit the application and the Capacity Assessment Report.
With an aging population, cases of elder abuse have become more widespread and are still on the rise. According to Employment and Social Development Canada, “One in five Canadians believes they know of a senior who might be experiencing some form of abuse.” The Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network estimates that “approximately 23,000 Alberta seniors are experiencing one or more forms of abuse.”
Types of Elder Abuse
Sadly, as people grow older a sizeable number become more susceptible to a wide variety of abusive actions:
Financial abuse including theft, frauds, and scams.
According to CPA Canada, popular financial fraud scams “include fraudulent services (contractors, door-to-door sales); prize pitches (such as telling them they've won the lottery); and the grandparent scam (such as, “Grandma, I've been held up at the border and need bail money”). Other fraud tactics include: romantic luring on dating sites; false extortion inquiries from the CRA, financial institutions or law enforcement; inheritance (fraudster poses as lawyer, or legal official, claiming you're entitled to inheritance from a long lost relative, and requests personal info and associated fees); and phishing (asking for passwords, credit cards, personal info and so on).”
Psychological or emotional abuse.
The Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council lists the following examples:
- Removal of decision-making power while the person is competent
- Withholding affection for manipulative purposes
- Refusing access to grandchildren
- Denying privacy in institutions
- Forcing older people to do degrading things
- Controlling activities
- Treating them like children
- Attacking their self-esteem
- Intentionally frightening them
Other forms of abuse include physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and medication abuse.
If you know someone who you suspect is being abused:
- First, call 911 to contact the police.
- Give them your time and attention, and talk to them openly about why you're concerned.
- If you suspect abuse in a lodge or other care facility, the law requires you to report the abuse to Protections for Persons in Care at 1-888-357-9339.
For more information on getting help for yourself or someone you know, visit the Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network website.
Your Friendly Elder Law Lawyer
Everyone deserves their rights. Let us help you navigate the elder law issues you are trying to resolve. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.