Elder Law Glossary

Are you dealing with issues involving elder law? Maybe you’re trying to figure out the best living situation for your aging parents, or perhaps you need to write a will or establish a trust. When you face issues you haven’t dealt with before, sometimes the legal vocabulary surrounding them can be a bit daunting.

To make wise decisions in any legal matter, you need to understand what documents really mean and what your lawyers are talking about — and that’s especially true when you’re making decisions that affect the people you love the most.

To that end, we’ve put together this handy elder law glossary to explain many of the key terms you’re likely to come across when facing issues that involve aspects of elder law.

We hope this elder law glossary is helpful.

the elder law glossary gives reason to smile

A document in which a person states his or her wishes regarding medical treatment in the event of mental incompetency or an inability to communicate.

This is the average private pay rate for nursing facilities in the state of Ohio. Medicaid uses this number to determine the penalty on transfers within their five-year look back.

An amendment to a will. A codicil must be executed in the same manner as a Last Will and Testament.

The healthy spouse who resides in the community and does not require Medicaid services. The spouse is entitled to the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA).

A certificate signed by a doctor, giving important information, such as age and gender, about a deceased person certifying the time, place, and cause of death. This document is used in all processes involving probate.

An individual who has passed away.

Inability to pursue an occupation due to a physical or mental impairment.

A written document given by one person to another authorizing that person to act as an agent on our behalf. The agent acts as a substitute decision maker for all types of decisions, including financial and property decisions. The document will survive one’s incapacity.

This term includes any physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment, and self-neglect that could injure or impact someone over the age of 65. If you suspect someone is a victim of elder abuse, make sure to call your local Adult Protective Services.

This refers to the assets owned by a decedent or a ward and all of his or her liabilities.

The person named in Last Will and Testament to oversee the Probate process for the decedent’s estate.

A person to whom property or power is entrusted for the benefit of another. Fiduciaries include Power of Attorneys, Executors, and Administrators of Estates.

A court-appointed individual or agency in charge of the care of a minor or incompetent person’s physical well-being and finances. Under Ohio law, a guardian is required to file a report to the court every two years. They are also required to undergo six hours of training in their first year as a guardian and three years of training every year thereafter.

A legal arrangement involving Probate Court in which one person (ward) has been deemed incompetent and unable to manage his or her affairs. The guardian is responsible for taking care of the ward and his or her property. The court appoints the guardian through a hearing.

Lack of ability, qualification or strength. This term is primarily a psychological or medical term.

No longer having the mental capacity to make decisions necessary to manage one’s property and personal affairs. All adults are presumed to be competent until a court has ruled otherwise. A determination of incompetency does not mean that the individual is mentally ill or mentally insane. Incompetency is a legal term.

A trust in which the Grantor has not reserved the power to revoke the trust agreement or change the structure of the trust. It is common for the grantor to reserve power over naming additional beneficiaries and other similar matters. A Trust Protector can be utilized to make any necessary changes to the agreement if needed.

A document instructing physicians, relatives, or others to refrain from the use of extraordinary measures, such as life-support, to prolong one’s life in the event of permanent unconsciousness or terminal illness.

A range of services and support one may need to meet their personal care needs. Assistance is required for one’s activities of daily living (ADLs), which include: bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, and eating. One may also need help with the instrumental activities of daily living, including housework, managing money, taking medication, shopping, using the phone, caring for pets, and responding to emergencies.

A government-funded program that pays covered medical expenses of low-income and low asset individuals who are aged, blind, or disabled.

The federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD).

An individual who has been appointed an Agent, typically under a Power of Attorney. The Agent owes the Principal a higher level of care and is required to act in the best interest of the Principal.

A court-supervised proceeding to prove the Will is valid. When a person dies, his or her estate must go through probate. There are different sizes of estates that can be taken through probate.

A revocable trust is one where the Grantor has a right to revoke or terminate the Trust. Virtually all revocable trusts are also Living Trusts. There are, however, exceptions where a beneficiary has the right to revoke the trust. If you are planning for someone with special needs, it is important to ensure that the special needs beneficiary does not have a right to revoke the trust; otherwise, the trust assets will count toward eligibility for public benefits.

Aa legal arrangement that separates different property rights in the same property. Most trusts are written, and the trust agreement places terms and conditions on the use of property. Property is managed by a Trustee, who is required to adhere to the terms of the Trust. The Property is used for the Beneficiary, although the Trust Agreement might place terms and conditions on that use (e.g., for education). One legal definition for Trusts is “a fiduciary relationship with respect to property arising from a settlor’s intention to impose equitable duties on a person [the trustee] to hold, manage, or otherwise administer that property for the benefit of another person [the beneficiary].”

A legal document designating how a Decedent wants his or her property distributed following the Decedent’s death.