More baby boomers are hitting 65 each day and will continue to do so into 2030. Therefore, the issues surrounding elder law are becoming more mainstream, especially as more enter or head toward retirement and start looking at the facts.
From Medicare to long-term care coverage to Social Security, there is a lot to know about elder law. Naturally, it is best to speak with an attorney any time you have a question or concern in these areas. This is because an elder law lawyer focuses specifically in this area, is apprised of the latest legislature changes, and can help prepare you for the road ahead.
5 Important, Trending Topics That Elder Law Attorneys Want You to Know
The more prepared you are for the later years, the easier it will be when it comes to securing benefits, finding long-term care, and protecting your loved ones. Here are a few trending topics attorneys are seeing – and that you should be aware of, too.
Topic 1: Alzheimer’s Disease and Estate Planning
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease, is not just a loss of memory. As it progresses, most patients with dementia lose their ability to function from day-to-day. They can forget to take medications, not remember their name, or confuse the current time with one year ago.
In 2018, an estimated 5.7 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Every 65 seconds in the US, someone develops the disease whether it is diagnosed or not. While it typically affects people later in life, there is a type known as early on-set that can strike much earlier without warning.
Once the disease is diagnosed, estate planning becomes incredibly complicated. No longer is the individual considered legally capacitated, which means they do not have the authority to make decisions themselves.
Elder law attorneys understand the complications that arise when a person is diagnosed or suffering from severe dementia but needs to create a plan to protect themselves and their loved ones – including assigning a guardian to oversee their best interests.
Topic 2: Medicaid and Nursing Home Costs
If you have limited assets and no or minimal income but you need nursing home care, you may wonder how you can pay for it. Medicaid might help in this situation, but you need to plan it properly and apply correctly to avoid unnecessary delays.
Nursing homes fall under long-term care, and Medicare rules are different regarding long-term care over short-term care needs.
It is not just qualifying for Medicare that poses an issue. Other issues come into play like state regulations and whether the nursing home you have selected even accepts Medicare or Medicaid benefits.
An attorney helps with Medicaid planning, but can also assist with long-term care planning long before you need nursing home services so that you do not scramble last minute to cover for your nursing home needs.
Topic 3: Veteran’s Benefits
Those who served in the military are eligible for benefits through Veterans’ Affairs. Veterans receive monthly compensation checks, but may also receive VA health care and nursing care through the Veteran’s pension.
Furthermore, the veteran’s pension may pass to the spouse in eligible situations after the death of the person who qualified for the benefits initially.
However, there are asset limitations to these benefits. And if you are a veteran or spouse of a veteran, it is important you understand the rules for VA benefits, including health services. Furthermore, having a long-term care plan in place ensures that you allocate assets appropriately to avoid disqualifying for veterans and other federal benefits available.
Topic 4: Social Security
Social security is available between the age of 62 and full retirement, but most people will not start taking the benefit until they have retired. Some might even delay until they reach 70 – depending on their financial situation.
While you might qualify for social security, you cannot rely on it solely to support you in retirement. Regardless of your plans with social security, you need to plan for Medicare and plan at age 65 to avoid an increased premium later.
Furthermore, if you work closely with an elder law attorney, you can create a long-term plan that focuses on your social security options, prepares your assets for Medicare, and still provides for your family.
Topic 5: Estate Plans
One of the most important services offered by an elder law attorney is estate plans. These plans dictate where your assets go upon your death, and they provide for your loved ones. If you are nearing retirement but have not yet created an estate plan, now is the time to start.
Estate plans are complex and more than just a binder of paperwork. A comprehensive, well-drafted estate plan focuses on:
- Last Will and Testament
- Power of Attorney
- Living Trust
- Medical Directives
- Designations for Beneficiaries
Together, these components not only identify beneficiaries and what they will receive from your estate, but it also outlines what medical care you want to receive if you become incapacitated. Additionally, it appoints a person to manage the estate and your financial affairs when you cannot and looks out for your best interests.
With a trust, you might save your family the hassles of probate court as well.
Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney Today
Whether you are worried about qualifying for Medicare or you want to get started on your estate plan, speak with an attorney that has experience in elder law.
The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., has extensive knowledge of the trending topics in elder law and hot issues on the horizon. We can create an estate plan that is futureproofed and considers the long-term care you need, including when you cannot make decisions yourself.
Meet with attorney Lamkin today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 516-605-0625. You can also request more information about elder law online.