Elder law attorneys often meet with family members who are seemingly at odds over the long-term care plans for their elderly loved ones. Often, one family member will be appointed as a health-care agent, and the health-care agent will decide to admit a parent to a nursing facility. In many circumstances, other family members will object to the health-care agent’s decision. Pre-planning for a loved one’s long-term care will help avoid these unfortunate family dynamics. A recent New Jersey case demonstrates the importance of planning ahead for a parent’s long-term care before an emergency strikes.
In the March 14, 2017 opinion of R.G. v. R.G., a New Jersey appeals court considered whether one adult’s conduct towards his adult brother amounted to domestic violence under state statutes. One brother, R.G., was a primary caregiver for his parents and was appointed as their agent under powers of attorney. R.G.’s mother became ill, and R.G. sought to place his mother in a nursing home despite his brother’s objections. R.G.’s brother sent a barrage of threatening texts and emails to R.G., and eventually the two brothers engaged in a physical altercation. R.G. obtained a restraining order against his brother. The brother appealed the restraining order and claimed R.G. did not meet the statutory definition of a victim of domestic abuse. The New Jersey appeals court agreed with the brother, ruling that the brother did not commit domestic violence against R.G.
Unfortunately, the New Jersey brothers spent a lot of unnecessary time and money that did not further their mother’s care. This New Jersey case serves as a reminder that similar family squabbles can be avoided.
Elder law attorneys encourage clients to sit down with their loved ones, explore options for long-term care together, and to express their desires for care to their loved ones. These wishes sometimes can be stated in a health care power of attorney and also by crafting a personalized plan for long-term care. When armed with a loved one’s plan for long-term care, family disputes can be avoided, and, best of all, a loved one’s’ wishes can be executed.