Carney, Sugai and Sudweeks is proud to define our practice area primarily as “Elder Law”. Although we gladly provide estate planning services to persons of all ages, and work with many professional, private and corporate clients on various types of cases, especially special needs planning, the focus of most of our work is on the elders in our community. When a family member comes to us for help in dealing with a beloved parent (or other elder), the focus of our efforts is providing for the wellbeing of the elder. As elder law attorneys, we bring a holistic and comprehensive approach to finding solutions to the problems faced by the elders in all of our cases, recognizing and addressing not just the elder’s legal problems, such as incapacity issues, but also the elder’s financial, health, personal care, and safety issues.
Our Elder Law practice incorporates three levels of planning to meet the varying needs of our clients: Basic Estate Planning, Long-term Care Planning, and Life Care Planning. In addition, we offer three levels of care services provided by our highly trained Elder Care Coordinator to address the health and personal care concerns of our clients: Care Consultation, Care Coordination and Care Management.
Long-term Care Planning and Life Care Planning at Carney, Sugai & Sudweeks includes advising clients regarding their potential use of and the eligibility rules of public benefits, such as Medi-Cal, In-Home Support Services, and Veteran’s Aid & Attendance. These public benefits help to pay for care at-home, in an assisted living facility and in a skilled nursing facility. Our legal services include assisting clients to plan for eligibility for these benefits, applying for the benefits when ready, and planning to avoid recovery claims where needed. While Estate Planning is planning for what happens when you die, Long-term Care Planning and Life Care Planning are planning for what happens if you don’t die (yet) and, instead, need long-term care for an extended length of time. Locating the appropriate type of care for each elder, and paying for that care is a major concern of our clients and their families, especially when there is already a chronically ill elder involved. At Carney, Sugai & Sudweeks, we help clients to coordinate private and public resources to finance the cost of care when needed, while working to ensure the quality of the care for the elder.
As part of the practice of Elder Law, we also recognize that many elderly clients have grave concerns about the future of their children and grandchildren and desperately wish to protect their estate in order to leave it to their family when they pass on. Therefore, when asked, we counsel clients on Asset Protection techniques that are both legal and ethical as part of Long-term Care Planning and Life Care Planning.
Dealing with the incapacity of elders, especially those suffering from dementia, often requires us to seek protective legal proceedings, such as conservatorships, over vulnerable seniors whose personal and/or financial safety is at risk. We also often file for other court orders, such as community spouse single transaction property petitions and substituted judgment petitions to accomplish the elder’s goals when incapacity prevents the elder from doing so on his own.
Two extremely important documents that we make sure every elder, who has capacity, has as part of any planning that is done in our offices are a Durable Power of Attorney for Property Management and Personal Affairs and an Advance Health Care Directive. These documents, when properly drafted, ensure that if the elder loses capacity, someone will have the legal authority to take care of his financial affairs as well as make both health and personal care decisions without the necessity of a costly and intrusive court proceeding.
As members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the attorneys and staff at Carney, Sugai & Sudweeks strive to provide our clients with the best quality elder-centered legal services available in our community while adhering to the highest standards of professionalism and ethical behavior in all of our cases.
If you would like a consultation with one of our attorneys regarding your elder law matters, we invite you to call our offices.
View a video: