Many people share the same concerns, or have very similar questions, regarding certain legal issues. Please review the Frequently Asked Questions below. The answers provided here may help you in addressing your concern, or improve your understanding of the issue you face.
- Question 1: What is the difference between “conservatorship” and “guardianship”?
• ANSWER: Guardianship refers to the power to make decisions regarding the care of an individual’s actual, physical person. Conservatorship refers to the power to make decisions regarding an individual’s estate (his or her money and/or assets). You can only obtain the power of Conservatorship or Guardianship by appointment of a Probate court.
- Question 2: What is the difference between a “power of attorney” and a “patient advocate”? And how do these differ from “conservatorship” and “guardianship”?
• ANSWER: A “power of attorney” generally refers to the ability to make decisions regarding someone else’s money and/or assets. A “patient advocate” refers to the ability to make decisions regarding someone else’s healthcare, possibly including end-of-life or do-not-resuscitate decisions. Unlike Conservatorship and Guardianship, “power of attorney” and “patient advocate” powers may be granted directly by one individual upon another individual, without the involvement of the court.
- Question 3: What is the difference between a Will and a Trust?
• ANSWER: While a description of all the differences between a Will and a Trust would be too complex to address here, a fundamental difference is that a Will typically must be administered through the Probate court at some level, while a Trust need not be subject to Probate at all.
- Question 4: Do I have to “spend down” my estate (money and property) to $2,000 in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of long-term health care?
• ANSWER: Not necessarily. In order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of long-term health care, a patient must have less than $2,000 in “countable” assets. Because not all assets are countable, you may retain more than $2,000 worth of total assets. Importantly, countable assets may be converted to non-countable assets pursuant to Medicaid rules, allowing the patient’s estate to retain more assets and still obtain coverage of costs.
- Question 5: I have been served papers that say I am (or my business is) being sued. What should I do?
• ANSWER: Failure to promptly respond with appropriate legal papers after you have been served with a civil lawsuit (sued) may result in the entry of a Default Judgment against you. This means that you may be forced to pay the judgment sought by the opposing party before you have a chance to defend the lawsuit on any substantive grounds. Therefore, it is extremely important to seek legal counsel immediately upon being served in order to avoid this result.
- Question 6: I have been charged with a crime. I am not in jail, but I have been told I must appear in court. What should I do?
• ANSWER: Again, it is extremely important to seek legal counsel immediately upon being charged with a crime in order to preserve your rights in court. Although criminal defendants are afforded certain constitutional rights, a misunderstanding of your rights and/or criminal legal proceedings can lead to a conviction, with disastrous effect.