One burgeoning area of the law that will affect us all in our old age is Elder Law, now seen as a discrete and specialised area of the law. The fact is that around 30 per cent of the Australian population is made up of seniors and baby boomers – the age cohort between 1946 and 1960. The percentage of seniors or elders is only going to increase due to falling birth rates, the “baby boomer” generation getting older, and people living longer.
“Elders” are generally defined as 65 and over. Some Elders of course have no physical or mental impairment and are entirely independent. Others have physical and/or cognitive impairments which results in impaired decision making capacity and dependence on others.
There are a lot of things to consider in old age, making a Will, appointing a Power of Attorney, making an Advance Health Care Directive, and choosing a retirement village or aged care facility are just some of the many.
Unfortunately the reality is that as the population of elders increases, the incidents of elder abuse are set to rise. We have all heard horror stories of the elderly being abused. Sadly, abuse of the elderly can take several forms including a lack of respect for their rights, emotional and physical abuse, neglect, psychological abuse and financial abuse where a family member may strip bank accounts or sell property.
It seems that on many occasions, people appointed as attorneys do not fully understand the obligations imposed upon them to act in the best interests of the adult with impaired capacity. These obligations are clearly set out in the Powers of Attorney Act and are available for download or viewing at www.justice.qld.gov.au .
When appointing an attorney, consideration must be given to ensuring, as far as you can, that a person you choose is appropriate and has the skills to act honestly and with reasonable diligence to avoid a situation of neglect or abuse.
McColm Matsinger Lawyers have a team of professionals who can help you in putting all the pieces of the aging puzzle together, including: –
- Enduring Powers of Attorney
- Advance Health Directives
- Capacity Issues
- Review of documentation for retirement villages and aged care facilities including ensuring you understand entry and exit provisions
- Advice and assistance with any matters before the Queensland Civil and Administrations Tribunal (QCAT)
- Estate Administration
- Estate Disputes
Our team is made up of professionals with their own life experiences to draw on. Contact us for the best elder law advice.