News & Resources: Blog

The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Long-Term Care

Published: May 11, 2023

Long-term care (LTC) for older adults may soon become a crucial part of technologies that use artificial intelligence (AI). The increasing relevance and adoption of AI have sparked debate over whether introducing it to healthcare technologies is ethical. At Camden Law, our elder law attorneys are excited about new opportunities in LTC, but as senior advocates, we are also concerned about risks.

How can AI Technologies in LTC be Addressed Responsibly?

AI technologies use a set of defined objectives to make predictions, recommendations, or decisions to perform tasks such as image, speech and pattern recognition, and natural language processing. They can use pre-programmed or self-learning algorithms to execute activities. 

In LTC, AI is designed to improve remote monitoring systems, support decision-making software, automated communications, and virtual assistants interacting with older adults and their caregivers. Monitoring systems can be programmed to evaluate actions such as lying, sitting, standing, and walking to predict potential risks that suggest declining mental or physical health.

More Safety, Less Privacy

Automated alerts sent to the older person or their caregiver may ensure timely care to prevent further problems and delay or avoid the need for a nursing home facility. This should inspire a greater sense of safety and wellbeing. However, it also affects privacy, dignity, autonomy, and trust concerning care.

The adoption of AI in LTC has sparked an ethical debate. While the use of AI can lead to more effective and efficient decisions, it can also lead to harmful consequences when finding the proper solution for specific problems, defining the need for medical treatment, and stigmatizing old age, not to mention the danger of depersonalizing and dehumanizing care. Innovators, users, and stakeholders must look at the social and ethical consequences of AI technologies for older people, their environment, and society. Would we feel comfortable using AI technology for LTC for ourselves, parents, and grandparents? If a skilled nursing facility replaced a portion of its staff with AI-powered monitoring systems, would we feel secure about the quality of our loved one’s health care experience?

Frameworks, Principles, and Guidelines for Responsible AI Innovation

Studies highlight the importance of high-level principles, such as transparency, justice, fairness, and quality of care. Problems arise when there is too much room for interpretation to determine proper and ethical LTC uses. It’s unclear how AI design in LTC will continue to unfold. We still need more studies evaluating the potential risks and impact of AI technologies used by older adults and their caregivers. Technology is advancing rapidly, but we must take the time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Adopting it too quickly and relying on it too heavily initially could have severe consequences.

If you have any questions regarding what you have read, please contact our office to speak with an elder law attorney. We are happy to help you evaluate in-home, assisted living, and skilled nursing facilities in your area to ensure you or a loved one are getting the care you need and deserve.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

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It is important to plan your estate to ensure that your assets, interests, and those you love will be protected after your death. However, without proper guidance and advice from a qualified estate planning attorney, many individuals make costly mistakes. Beyond undermining your intent and diminishing your financial legacy, poor planning can create additional stress to your heirs in their time of grief.

Six common errors frequently happen during the estate planning process. These mistakes often occur because the complete financial picture was not fully considered. It is easiest to avoid estate planning mishaps by knowing what they are before you begin or looking for these errors when reviewing and updating your plan.

Financial procrastination causes problems. While examining your mortality and making end-of-life preparations is not a particularly fun activity, try viewing it as helping and enhancing your loved ones' future lives while creating a sense of peace during your own. 

The need to protect your finances using wills, trusts, and power of attorney (POA) documents is not solely the domain of the elderly. Putting off the drafting of legal documents necessary to protect yourself and your inheritors can lead to disastrous outcomes.

By far, failing to create an estate plan is the most common mistake. Even if you do not have a lot of money, you need a will to protect any minor children you have by naming their guardians. Your will also ensures your asset distribution to heirs is carried out according to your intentions when you die and names a representative to handle debt obligations, final taxes, and other estate administrative duties. Dying without a will or "intestate" can lead to dire consequences.

Outdated wills, forms, and POAs create problems. If you made a will twenty years ago and have not reviewed and updated its contents, chances are many of the details no longer reflect current assets or beneficiaries. Estate planning is not a "set it and forget it" proposition. Reviewing estate planning documents and beneficiary forms every two years is generally adequate, barring a major life change such as divorce, birth, death, remarriage, or relocation to another state.

Beneficiaries without coordination can create expensive oversight. Beneficiary forms for retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs, annuities, and life insurance policies may constitute a significant portion of your estate's assets. These beneficiary forms are legally binding and will supersede the contents of your will. Failure to update beneficiary forms can lead to an ex-spouse receiving assets that preferably would go to your heirs. Routine checks of all beneficiary designations are best practices for estate planning.

Failing to title trust assets properly can lead to probate. While not everyone requires a trust, those who do must carefully retitle their assets into the name of the trust. Forgetting to add more recently purchased property or opening a new account requires you to title them into the trust to receive trust benefits. Whether real estate, cash, mutual funds, or stocks, if you fail to move the asset into the trust, they become subject to the probate court, possible tax consequences (depending on the trust type), and a public record of these assets.

Life insurance can trigger estate tax. Life insurance can provide heirs with liquidity without the sale of assets and tax consequences when handled correctly. However, if a wealthy individual dies while maintaining ownership of their life insurance policy, they may inadvertently create a tax event for their heirs. Although life insurance death benefits are not subject to state or federal income taxes, any "incident" of ownership by the decedent can create an inheritance tax.

An estate planning attorney can help shelter life insurance proceeds from high-value estates by gifting the policy to an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) or draft a new trust to purchase a new policy where the trust is the owner and beneficiary. A policy owned by the trust does not create a taxable situation to death benefits. Your attorney's careful structuring of this trust type is complex but can provide proper protection.

Joint ownership of assets with your children can lead to disastrous consequences. Naming your children as co-owners of assets, even digital, permits their creditors to access your money. The better way to address the situation is to give your adult child power of attorney and assign them as a beneficiary to a payable on death bank or brokerage account. This tactic permits them to access your funds if required during your lifetime. However, it keeps your assets from your child's estate and away from their potential creditors.

Ultimately the biggest error you can make is not finding the right estate planning attorney to guide you. This specialized attorney receives training on avoiding probate, tax implications, and asset protection if you require long-term care. Proper planning with the right guidance will help you avoid costly estate planning mistakes and protect your family's future financial well-being.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

- Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

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