Elder law attorneys often meet with family members who are seemingly at odds over the long-term care plans for their elderly loved ones.
Often, one family member will be appointed as a health care agent, and the health care agent will decide to admit a parent to a nursing facility. In many circumstances, other family members will object to the health care agent’s decision.
Pre-planning for a loved one’s long-term care will help avoid these unfortunate family dynamics. A recent New Jersey case demonstrates the importance of planning ahead for a parent’s long-term care before an emergency strikes.
In the March 14 opinion of R.G. v. R.G., a New Jersey appeals court considered whether one adult’s conduct towards his adult brother amounted to domestic violence under state statutes. One brother, R.G., was a primary caregiver for his parents and was appointed as their agent under powers of attorney. R.G.’s mother became ill, and R.G. sought to place his mother in a nursing home despite his brother’s objections.
R.G.’s brother sent a barrage of threatening texts and emails to R.G., and eventually the two brothers engaged in a physical altercation. R.G. obtained a restraining order against his brother. The brother appealed the restraining order and claimed R.G. did not meet the statutory definition of a victim of domestic abuse. The New Jersey appeals court agreed with the brother, ruling that the brother did not commit domestic violence against R.G.
Unfortunately, the New Jersey brothers spent a lot of unnecessary time and money that did not further their mother’s care. This New Jersey case serves as a reminder that similar family squabbles can be avoided.
Elder law attorneys encourage clients to sit down with their loved ones, explore options for long-term care together, and express their desires for care to their loved ones. These wishes sometimes can be stated in a health care power of attorney and by crafting a personalized plan for long-term care.
When armed with a loved one’s plan for long-term care, family disputes can be avoided and, best of all, a loved one's’ wishes can be executed.
Andrew Olsen is an attorney in the CSH Law Elder Law Practice Group in Wilmington, NC, where he practices in the areas of elder law, estate planning probate, guardianship, alternative dispute resolution, estate and trust litigation, special needs planning and veteran’s benefits. To contact Olsen, call (910) 777-5733 or email him at [email protected].
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