LEGAL & ESTATE PLANNING

Legal Protection As You Age

Laws Vary From State To State


It is important to remember that laws vary from state to state.  Check to see if your State Bar Association offers a Senior Law Guide covering the laws of your state. 


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to find your State Bar Association website

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As You Age

Legal & Estate Planning

4 Suggestions When You Are Seeking Legal Advice


  1. 1. Always check with attorneys licensed in your state for legal and estate planning advice before making any important decisions.


  1. 2. It’s always best to seek out qualified resources and/or licensed professionals for advice and help when you need to make important decisions - especially the ones that impact your lifestyle, health, independence, finances, security and future.


  1. 3. This is especially true in today’s world, when there is so much to keep track of - and the rules and regulations for everything seem to change on a daily basis.


  1. 4.  Whenever possible, get more than one professional opinion.
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Legal & Estate Planning

Legal Protection As You Age


As we age, there is a good chance we may become seriously ill, disabled or otherwise unable to make decisions or handle our personal, health and/or financial affairs at some point.  At that time someone else - a family member, trusted friend, caregiver, guardian or conservator - will be asked to step up and make decisions or take action on our behalf.    


Two Of Our Biggest Concerns As We Age


  1. 1. Fear of losing our independence & ability to care for ourselves


  2. 2. How to ensure others carry out our wishes if we become  

  3.    incapacitated and unable to make decisions for ourselves


Legal and financial issues affecting Older Americans are becoming more complex, so it is essential to plan ahead to make sure our wishes about the future are known and respected.


If we don’t provide instructions to others about how we want our  care, finances and other personal matters handled should we become incapacitated, others will not know our wishes and may possibly make decisions we would not agree with.


Advance planning is important so that family members, doctors and other health care professionals don’t have to guess what we would want or do. 

Caring Conversations is a consumer education program that helps individuals and their families share meaningful conversations while making practical decisions and preparations for end-of-life decisions.  The goals are to:

•Shift the focus of advance care planning to include conversations with family and friends

•Help families advocate on behalf of those who can no longer speak for themselves

•Ensure that the wishes of those near the end of life are respected and honored

•Educate healthcare providers who participate in advance care planning

Caring Conversations is published by the Center For Practical Bioethics. It is designed to be a workbook/guide and includes a Healthcare Directive and a Durable and an advanced directive.

The American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging offers a free guide, Health & Financial Decisions - Legal Tools For Preserving Your Personal Autonomy


It explains what you should do to ensure that, if it becomes necessary to act on your behalf, others will make choices that reflect your values, beliefs and wishes, even if they disagree with you.


There are a few basic legal planning documents that everyone should consider using.


For Health-related and Personal choice matters:

Consider an Advance Directive For Health Care, which includes

  1. A Health Care Power of Attorney

  2. A Living Will


For Financial Matters:

Consider having a Durable Power of Attorney

  1. And possibly a Trust


Without these documents, making decisions on your behalf becomes much more difficult for everyone involved.

Chapters 15 and 16 of the ABA’s Family Legal Guide offer information about the rights of Older Americans and estate planning.

The Senior Law Handbook below, published by Continuing Legal Education in Colorado, the Colorado Bar Association and the Denver Bar Association is good example of the kinds of information a Senior legal guide can offer Seniors, Families and Caregivers.

AsYouAge.com is a directory of Senior information and Senior resources for in-home care, healthcare, senior housing, Social Security, Medicare, Veterans benefits, elderlaw, nutrition, fitness, travel, finance, medical symptoms, consumer protection, senior  care, caregiving and more. www.AsYouAge.com

A Legal Expert’s Opinion



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Dennis Lanphier

ElderLaw Attorney

Denver, CO