Elder law attorneys may focus their practice areas in estate planning, incapacity planning, and protection of vulnerable individuals and their assets.
How Can an Elder Law Attorney Help My Aging Loved One?
Having a plan for your aging loved one’s care can relieve anxiety for you and the senior. Elder law attorneys can help their clients by providing some of the following services:
Long-Term Care Planning
The number of Americans living past age 65 has exponentially increased over the past few decades and will continue to grow over the next few years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there will be more than 80 million seniors in the U.S. by 2040. This increase requires more people to pay close attention to the need for long-term care planning.
An elder law attorney, in coordination with a financial advisor, can help seniors create a plan to pay for their care needs for the rest of their lives. The attorney can aid you in determining what public benefits you could qualify for, such as Medicaid should the need for a nursing home arise.
Estate Planning Document Preparation
Most people contact an elder law attorney whose focuse includes estate planning when they need end-of-life documents drafted. Yet it is smart to start estate planning when you are still healthy.
Elder law attorneys may draft for their clients such documents as a last will and testament, health care directive, and power of attorney. By carefully crafting these documents, an attorney can help protect a senior’s legal rights when it comes to their retirement benefits, estate administration, and medical decision-making authority.
At the same time, having a comprehensive estate plan in place may not only ease the stress your family members encounter upon your passing, but also help them avoid any potential disputes regarding their inheritance.
Create a Plan for Incapacity
A related piece of the puzzle is incapacity planning. This could mean having an elder law attorney advise you on documenting your wishes for care at the end of your life, in the wake of a disability, or after a diagnosis of dementia.
For instance, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6.7 million Americans aged 65 and older suffer with Alzheimer’s disease. As the senior population increases across the United States, the number of seniors with memory care needs will likewise increase.
People with memory issues may reach a stage when they can no longer care for themselves. It is essential to have a plan in place for when a senior is incapacitated.
An elder law attorney can assist seniors and their families as they try and protect the senior’s financial and physical well-being as their condition progresses.
Crisis Medicaid Planning
At times there is insufficient time to plan well in advance of the 5 year lookback for Medicaid planning. Your attorney can assist with crisis medicaid planning with the goal of getting you or your loved one eligible for Medicaid as soon as possible to preserve assets for a community spouse or other family members.
Elder law attorneys help family members and older adults with guardianship.
This may include a situation in which an older adult has dementia or another condition affecting decision-making. In such a case, an elder law attorney can help a concerned family member obtain guardianship. This includes securing a physician’s report, petitioning the court, and attending a hearing.
An older adult might sometimes dispute guardianship, asserting continued decision-making capacity and wishing to maintain autonomy. Elder law attorneys representing older adults can present evidence to the court regarding their clients’ capacity to handle their own affairs.
The attorney may also help support an older adult’s autonomy by recommending less restrictive alternatives to guardianship. These alternative options include limited guardianship and supported decision-making. Supported decision-making provides aid while preserving individuals’ rights.
Our office provides elder law services, whether you are planning ahead of a potential need for a nursing home or have a crisis situation. Please use the following link to schedule an appointment or call our office.