An elder law attorney serves as your advocate and also your family’s guide.
This area of the law specializes in the unique range of financial and legal matters older adults face, including everything from health care planning to long-term care to guardianship and estate planning.
An elder law attorney is a specialist because they focus specifically on the issues afflicting those in retirement or venturing close to it.
When you go to an elder law attorney, they have a vast array of services they provide you. But there are three critical legal issues they can resolve.
Most importantly, elder law attorneys are better equipped to handle issues like Medicare or Medicaid planning and the sensitive needs of elderly individuals and their families. They are well versed in the latest laws and legislature. They can help you, not only today, but they can also anticipate your future needs as well.
What 3 Important Legal Issues an Elder Law Attorney Can Help You With
The services an elder law attorney can provide are extensive, but there are three critical issues that they can help resolve before they turn into more significant problems.
Whether you have an elder attorney already or you are considering hiring one, here are three critical issues that you want to make sure you get resolved now rather than later.
Long-Term Care Planning
Long-term care planning involves considering your care requirements at a later date. This includes healthcare teams, nursing homes, and assisted living options. You might also want to prepare for in-home nursing care.
Most families are ill-prepared to pay for such services. And even with insurance coverage, you might find that you do not have the benefits available to cover care for several years.
You have options to pay for your long-term care, and an attorney will help you unlock those options. Elder law attorneys counsel their clients regarding eligibility and look for programs like Veterans’ Affairs that might help pay for these services. Even if you do not qualify for VA benefits, you may have Medicaid or Medicare, which pays for long-term care.
Your attorney not only helps you prepare for applying for these benefits, but they help with asset management so that you will qualify financially.
Creating an Advance Directive (Living Will)
Elder law attorneys create estate plans, but they also can create vital documents like a living will. A living will, also known as an advanced directive, is your advocate designation if you become ill or incapacitated and cannot make medical decisions yourself.
Your living will discusses all your medical wishes. It is a legal, written document that outlines how you wish to receive emergency care. You can discuss topics like resuscitation, life-saving measures, surgeries, and any end-of-life treatments you want to receive or do not want to receive.
You should discuss these options with your primary care physician and your family. When you select a party as your healthcare advocate, it is their job to carry out all wishes listed in your living will.
One common use of an advanced directive is to determine the use of life-saving measures like being placed on a ventilator.
The Importance of Thinking Ahead – and Using Specifics
One error made with an advanced directive is that most people cannot address their mortality. They do not want to think ahead about what might happen or what the future holds. Furthermore, they may forget situations where medical decisions might be required.
It is vital that you work with your attorney to be as specific as you can in your document. While you cannot account for every possible situation, the more information you have in that document, the easier it will be for your healthcare advocate to comply with your wishes.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
Another common issue that your attorney helps with is the durable financial power of attorney. This document provides access to one individual to manage your financial needs in the event you are incapacitated and cannot do so yourself.
The document grants power to one person, which might be a family member. They have the legal authority to access your accounts, pay bills on your behalf, sell or acquire assets, and even pay taxes.
You are in complete control of the authority they have over your financial decisions. In your durable power of attorney, you can decide the following tasks they may or may not do:
- Pay bills
- Pay and file taxes
- Pay for medical costs
- Manage real estate
- Access your bank accounts
- Collect retirement benefits for your use
- Transfer or sell assets
- Hire an attorney for your estate
- Operate your business
- Buy insurance
Realize that an agent does not have unlimited power. Instead, you dictate the power they have in your document.
Other Problems an Elder Law Attorney Can Resolve
While these three are the primary problems elder law attorneys are hired to handle, they have much more to their services than that. An attorney can also help you with:
- Counseling you on insurance and avoiding gaps in coverage
- Assessing your needs for legal capacity counseling
- Protecting you or representing you in elder abuse
- Advising you on housing options after retirement
- Discussing the best route for your retirement
- Helping with guardians, conservators, and trustees to handle your estate
- Creating an estate plan
- Helping plan for disabilities
Explore the Options Available – Meet with an Elder Law Attorney in Your Area Today
If you are ready to explore your options and see what an attorney can do for you, schedule a consultation with an elder law attorney.