Hurley Elder Care Law Newsletter - February 2018
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February 2018   

How to Avoid Messy Guardianships 

One of the key areas of our practice at Hurley Elder Care Law is guardianship. Some older adults have the need for a guardian, or a person appointed by the court to make healthcare and other mostly non-monetary decisions for someone who cannot make these types of decisions because of an injury, illness, or disability.  A guardian may be needed for someone who is in a coma, has advanced dementia, or has had a major stroke or brain injury that has rendered them incapable of making sound decisions about health care, money, living situation, or other personal matters. The process of getting a guardian appointed involves a hearing, a competency evaluation, and testimony.  This often results in the need to make public details family would wish to keep private. Guardianships can get messy as the proposed ward may dispute the need for any intervention and as families fight over who should be appointed as the guardian. We have seen families torn apart by the decision to pursue guardianship, but messy guardianships can be avoided. Here are some alternatives to guardianship:

Advance Directives
An advance directive is a form used to communicate an adult’s choices about medical care. It allows an individual to name someone to make medical choices on his/her behalf if he/she is ever unable or unwilling to make their own decisions. It is called an advance directive because it is signed in advance (or before an illness or incapacity) to let the person’s family and doctor know his/her wishes about medical treatment. Completing and signing an advance directive can often eliminate the need for a guardianship as a healthcare agent has already been appointed in the event of incapacity and the healthcare wishes have been communicated ahead of time. The healthcare agent can begin acting in their role, often leaving no need for a guardian.  Of course, having an advance directive in place does not always prevent the need for a guardianship, but it can often help.  The most recent Georgia Advance Directive allows the individual to name a potential guardian in case they ever need a guardian. The judge takes this into consideration when appointing a guardian; the person named in the advance directive is first in the order of preferences.  The Georgia Advance Directive is a free form that can be completed without an attorney; it can be downloaded here:

Family Meetings
I have always been shocked by the number of calls we get from family members asking about guardianship before they have even tried talking to their loved ones. I have talked to adult children who want to be named guardian over their parent so that they can move them into an assisted living facility. Assuming things such as, “Oh, mom will never go willingly to a home. I will have to force her to go.” When pressed for details on how the conversations have gone, the adult child will usually admit that he/she has never directly consulted their parents or talked to them about long-term care planning. The cost and risks associated with the guardianship process often motivates families to have these difficult conversations and to make plans together. The same applies to family members fighting over being appointed as the guardian—often, they have not tried to come to an agreement outside of the courtroom. Siblings that have been estranged from each other often assume that they could never work together for their parents, but they have often never even attempted to reconcile or find solutions outside of the guardianship process. We always recommend that families first work with a counselor, mediator or geriatric care manager (or Aging Life Care Expert) to find solutions for their loved one. The guardianship process should be pursued as a last resort.

Older Adult Services
When a loved one is a danger to themselves or others, it is often time to get professionals involved to provide oversight, hands-on caregiving, housing, and/or other social services.  Getting a loved one to consent to those services can be difficult but often possible if approached the right way and at the right time. Getting help from the Area Agency on Aging, Aging Life Care Experts, Certified Elder Law Attorneys, geriatric social workers, and other long-term care professionals to explain the options and navigate through the decision-making can help secure services for the loved one to keep him/her safe. This might also negate any need for a guardianship. Working alongside those we care about to help them get the least restrictive and least invasive interventions almost always results in better outcomes for all involved.
Guardianships can get messy. They can be painful and expensive for the whole family, but it does not have to be this way. Advance planning with the right tools and open conversations can help most families avoid messy guardianships. The experienced elder law attorneys at Hurley Elder Care Law are committed to making sure each situation is fully assessed and that the least severe solutions are applied. If you need personalized legal advice about guardianships in Georgia, please call our office at (404) 843-0121 or email us at

Family Business
Roses are red, violets are blue, Hurley clients, we love you!
This Valentine’s Day we want to highlight two very special couples that have inspiring love stories.
Miles and his bride, Joanna, will have been married for 24 years in September. They were introduced by Miles’ roommate while in college and have three handsome sons. Miles says "Joanna is just as beautiful as the day I met her!"
Dawn and her husband, Bill, will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in June with a special trip to the Caribbean. The two of them began as high school sweethearts and now have three grown children and four grandchildren. Bill still brings Dawn roses “Just Because."

Upcoming Speaking Events and CEs
Continuating Education (CE)
*All CE topics are certified for case managers, nurses and social workers.
Every 67 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s, and one in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.  The purpose of this activity is to review the basics of Alzheimer’s disease and then analyze the financial impact of the disease to families and employers as well as those affected by it. Knowing the options available and planning for the unexpected loss in functional and cognitive capacity is the best way for healthcare professionals to advise their patients and families. The earlier you plan; the more options are available. Dementia is hard enough when there is a plan in place; dementia with no plan will leave families exhausted, stressed and financially strapped. 

11:30 AM-12:00 PM Registration & Lunch, 12:00 PM-1:00 PM CE Education, Arbor Terrace of East Cobb, 886 Johnson Ferry Rd., Marietta, GA 30068, RSVP: 

Healthcare professionals are being challenged with meeting the needs of an older population that is living longer with more complex issues and fewer family supports than ever before. Do you ever feel overwhelmed/lost when dealing with this population? This seminar will offer guidance for professionals dealing with the new aging family. We will explore elder orphans, elderly immigrants, and blended families.

5:30 PM-6:00 PM  Registration and Dinner, 6:00 PM-7:00 PM CE Education, Benton House of Decatur, 2711 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, GA 30033, RSVP: 
*This event is currently full. Please feel free to register for the waitlist and we will let you know if a space becomes available. 

Healthcare professionals are being challenged with meeting the needs of an older population that is living longer with more complex issues and fewer family supports than ever before. Do you ever feel overwhelmed/lost when dealing with this population? This seminar will offer guidance for professionals dealing with the new aging family. We will explore elder orphans, elderly immigrants, and blended families.

11:30 AM-12:00 PM Registration and Lunch, 12:00 PM-1:00 PM CE Education, Garden Plaza at Lawrenceville, 230 Collins Industrial Way, Lawrenceville, GA 30043, RSVP:

Healthcare professionals recognize that dealing with a surrogate decision maker is often necessary. Most even encourage their patients to identify a healthcare agent in an advance directive for healthcare. Yet knowing who is the legal decision maker is not always clear. During the presentation Hurley Elder Care Law will present information explaining the four different types of surrogate decision makers and their necessary legal documents. The presenters will review the responsibilities of a healthcare agent and discuss factors to consider when dealing with a healthcare agent. The discussion will feature a review of ethical dilemmas that health care agents face and examine guidelines for making decisions on behalf of someone else. Through a series of case studies, the presenters will discuss how healthcare professionals sometimes struggle with patient autonomy and informed consent when surrogates are involved.

5:30 PM-6:00 PM Registration and Dinner, 6:00 PM-7:00 PM CE Education, Pebblebrook at Park Springs, 5610 New Bermuda Road SW, Stone Mountain, GA 30087, RSVP:

Georgia’s aging population is facing a crisis in long- term care. Costs are skyrocketing and most families can’t afford to spend over $100,000 a year for care. Healthcare professionals are on the front lines providing information and tools to help navigate this difficult time. This seminar offers practical information to healthcare providers detailing Georgia’s long-term care options. This seminar will outline strategies for accessing public benefits to pay for care including Georgia Nursing Home Medicaid and VA Aid and Attendance. Case studies will be presented to encourage dialogue and examine real world situations.

5:30 PM-6:00 PM Registration and Dinner, 6:00 PM-7:00 PM CE Education, Celebration Village Acworth, 4460 Celebration Blvd., Acworth, GA 30101, RSVP:

Community Presentations - Open to the Public

Sunday, March 4- Are you caring for a loved one who's been recently diagnosed with dementia or mild to moderate Alzheimer's? Join us for a free seminar “ Navigating the Demetia Maze” with speakers from the Alzheimer's Association, Jewish Family & Career Services and Miles Hurley, JD, CELA, of Hurley Elder Care Law. The basics of Alzheimer's, how to build a care team and access resources as well as the costs associated with the disease and the importance of financial and legal planning will be discussed. Free and open to the public. 

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM Presentation & Refreshments
Temple Sinai
5645 Dupree Drive
Atlanta, GA 30327
RSVP to Maya Thomas at 770-677-9365 or visit

Tuesday, March 6- Join Danielle Humphrey, JD, CELA, of Hurley Elder Care Law as she presents "You Don't Know What You Don't Know" at Charlie's Italian Restaurant. The options for paying for long-term care are limited.  Did you know that Medicare will not pay for home care or assisted living care?  Do you know what Medicaid provides?  Most families do not realize their limited options until they are in a crisis—usually when their loved one is about to be discharged from a hospital.  Making decisions while in a crisis can be stressful and result in bad choices.  This seminar is intended to provide information prior to a crisis.  Learn how to best find, get and pay for good long-term care.

5:00 PM - 5:30 PM- Dinner, 5:30 PM - 6:00 PM- Presentation
Charlie's Italian Restaurant 
15 West Cross Street
East Ellijay, GA 30540
RSVP to Jessi Barton at 706-515-4100 or

Tuesday, March 20- Join Miles Hurley, JD, CELA, of Hurley Elder Care Law as he presents "Tough Conversations: Georgia Advance Directives" at Arbor Terrace Burnt Hickory. Do you know who would be making your healthcare decisions if you were unable to communicate? State regulations about who can step-in and make your healthcare decisions may go against what you want. Learn why you need a Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care and what can happen if you don’t have one and cannot express your wishes. Participants will have an opportunity to complete their own Advance Directives.

6:00 PM- 7:00 PM- Presentation & Refreshments
Arbor Terrace Burnt Hickory
920 Burnt Hickory Road
Marietta, GA 30064
RSVP to Lisa Lewis at 770-691-0050 or

For more details and a complete list of upcoming events, please visit Hurley Elder Care Law Community Education.
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Can’t Sleep?- Let’s start a discussion on the sleep-loss epidemic.

Staying Happy as You Age- What is the secret to living your best life?

Elder Care Resources
Senior Housing- Learn what changes we are likely to see in the next 10 years.

Landmark Legislation- Take a closer look at the RAISE Family Caregivers Act.

Women and Alzheimer’s- Are women more vulnerable to this disease?

Guardian vs. Power of Attorney, etc.- What do all of these legal terms mean?

Miles P. Hurley, JD, CELA  Miles P. Hurley founded Hurley Elder Care Law in 2006 to provide legal assistance to the elderly population on issues relating to aging including retaining independence, quality of life and financial security. Mr. Hurley is one of eleven attorneys in the state of Georgia to receive the Elder Law Attorney Certification, and one of approximately 400 nationwide. 
Hurley Elder Care Law is dedicated to the process of long-term care and estate planning. 
Call us today for a free phone consultation with a client coordinator at (404) 843-0121.

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Hurley Elder Care Law
100 Galleria Pkwy, Suite 650
Atlanta, GA 30339

Satellite Offices
2011 Commerce Dr. Suite 100, Peachtree City, GA 30269   
225 Creekstone Ridge, Woodstock, GA 30188       
6340 Sugarloaf Pkwy. Suite 200, Duluth, GA 30097

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