Elder law attorneys focus on legal issues that affect seniors, such as estate planning, Medicare and Medicaid, long-term care, guardianship, and other related areas. Unlike most other areas of law, Elder Law is less focused on a particular legal topic (like criminal law, or family law) and more about the age and health of the client. Here are some situations in which someone may need to contact an elder law attorney:
If you are a senior citizen or have an aging loved one, it’s essential to plan for the future. Estate planning includes things like creating a will, setting up trusts, preparing advance directives for healthcare, and executing a power of attorney. An elder law attorney can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that protects your assets and ensures that your wishes are followed. Much like an insurance policy, the essential estate planning documents can help you or your family navigate a crisis.
Medicaid is a government program that can cover the cost of skilled nursing care for seniors. However, the eligibility rules for Medicaid can be complicated, and there are strict income and asset limits. An elder law attorney can help you navigate the Medicaid system and create a plan that preserves your assets while still qualifying for Medicaid benefits.
Long-term care planning
As we age, the likelihood of needing long-term care increases. Long-term care can be expensive, and it’s essential to plan for these costs. An elder law attorney can help you explore your options, such as long-term care insurance or trusts, and create a plan that provides for your care needs.
In some cases, a senior may no longer be able to make decisions for themselves or care for themselves due to physical or mental impairment. A guardianship may be necessary to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf. An elder law attorney can guide you through the guardianship process, ensuring that your loved one’s rights are protected.
Unfortunately, elder abuse is a growing problem in our society. If you suspect that an elderly person is being abused or neglected, an elder law attorney can help you take action. They can assist with filing a complaint, obtaining a restraining order, and pursuing legal action against the abuser.
Probate and estate administration
When a loved one passes away, their assets need to be distributed according to their wishes. Probate is the legal process that governs the distribution of the deceased’s assets. An elder law attorney can assist with probate and estate administration, ensuring that the process is smooth and straightforward. Probate issues can be particularly complicated in situations where an apparently healthy spouse dies, leaving behind a widow who has significant care needs or is in a nursing home.
While many attorneys in a general practice can do things like draft a will, trust, or power of attorney, without the understanding of the legal complexities we face as we age, those attorneys often miss key provisions that elder law attorneys know are critical planning tools for seniors. If you or a loved one are a senior citizen, it’s important to consult with an elder law attorney. They can help you navigate the complex legal issues that affect seniors and provide you with peace of mind knowing that your interests are protected.