When you hear the term “elder law attorney,” on the surface, it can be a head scratcher. Why would elders need a special type of lawyer?
This is a good question, but there are some issues seniors face that have legal ramifications, and we will look at five of them in this post.
Update Your Estate Plan
Your existing estate plan will be based on the way that your life was at the time it was created. Over the years, many things can change, and your existing plan may not reflect the current situation.
If you consult with an elder law attorney when you start to reach an advanced age, you can go over your plan with your lawyer. You can make changes if necessary, and you can go forward with the knowledge that your estate plan has been adjusted to reflect your current wishes.
Consider a Medicaid Planning Strategy
Most seniors will need help with their activities of daily living at some point in time, and over 30 percent will reside in nursing homes. These facilities are very expensive so huge nursing home bills could wipe away your children’s inheritances.
Medicare is not the solution, because it does not cover the custodial care that is provided by nursing homes and professional in-home caregivers. Medicaid is a jointly administered federal/state government program that will pay for this type of care.
Since Medicaid is a need-based benefit, you can’t qualify if you have more than $2000 in countable assets in your name. As a response, you could convey assets into an irrevocable Medicaid trust.
You would not be able to access the principal or act as the trustee, but you could receive income that is generated by assets in the trust until you apply for Medicaid. As long as you fund the trust at least five years before you submit your application, the assets in the trust would not count.
We speak to clients who are proactively planning ahead for themselves, but elders are not the only people who may want to consult with an elder law attorney. There are millions of unpaid caregivers that are family members or friends of seniors who need living assistance.
They sometimes lose time at work, and there can be other out-of-pocket expenses. There is also the matter of their physical and emotional well-being. The burden can reach a breaking point, and it is wise to get some legal advice before that time arrives.
Guardianship of an Elder
A well-constructed estate plan should include an incapacity planning component, because many elders become unable to handle their own affairs eventually. You can name someone to act on your behalf if it becomes necessary in a durable power of attorney.
This is well and good, but if no plans have been made in advance, a family member may want to file a petition for guardianship. An elder law attorney would be well-positioned to provide this type of assistance.
Suspected Elder Abuse
Unfortunately, elder abuse is a big problem, and it comes in a number of different forms. Physical abuse may come to mind first, and instances of elder financial abuse cost seniors billions of dollars annually.
This is another area of concern for elder law attorneys so you would do well to consult with a lawyer if you have suspicions.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
As you can see, there are a number of very good reasons why you may want to connect with an elder law attorney. If this is the time, you can schedule a consultation at our office in Charlotte, NC or Huntersville, NC if you call us at 704-944-3245.
Our elder law office in Ashland, Kentucky can be reached at 606-324-5516, and our office in Florence, Kentucky can be reached at 859-372-6655. Or you can fill out our contact form if you would prefer to send us a message.