Even in the best of circumstances, it’s hard when the role between parent and child begins to shift from the parent as the caretaker to the child as the caretaker. Elder law attorneys are experienced in making this shift more manageable. They can be there for your family now and when you no longer can be.
What is Elder Law?
Elder law is the branch of law that regulates how older adults organize their affairs, receive care, and protect their rights. Elder law attorneys are specialists in elder law and advocate for the elderly and the people they love.
An elder law attorney provides overarching coordination for the financial, legal, and health care decisions that older adults face. A good elder law attorney will help clients find solutions to their long-term care needs that fit their specific family, health, and financial situations. From government benefits such as Medicaid and Social Security to wills and trusts, elder law attorneys are experts in aging Americans’ legal issues (i.e., healthcare, living arrangements, estate, and other financial matters). The best elder law attorneys are also equipped to handle the sensitive emotions and physical challenges we face as we age.
Elder Law attorneys can help you and your family with wills, trust, planning for a minor or adult with special needs, probate, tax protections, powers of attorney, and more. Additionally, estate planning can help set up the proper structure to allocate income and assets for the duration of your life and manage the distribution process of finances after death. Every person and family is unique, especially regarding their long-term care, financial needs, and asset management. An elder care lawyer will work with you to determine the best plan for your life and loved ones.
Long-Term Care Planning
Long-term care usually refers to needing help with everyday activities, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, using the toilet, eating, and mobility. Not everyone will need long-term care. Or you may find you need just some basic assistance as you grow older. But an unexpected accident, illness, or injury can change your needs dramatically and suddenly. Having a plan in place can bring peace of mind to you and the people you care about.
Plus, long-term care costs can be substantial. Trying to figure out how to pay for long-term care can be stressful. Elder law attorneys specialize in long-term care planning and can outline the steps you can take to make your care more affordable. This includes estimating the costs of different long-term care options, learning about eligibility for Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, VA benefits, long-term care insurance, and using trusts and investments to self-fund the cost of care.
Long-term planning overlaps with Medicaid planning, so it is important to work with an equally skilled attorney in both areas. While you may not be thinking about Medicaid as an option, it is the largest health insurance provider in the United States. Medicaid will often help pay for long-term home care, assisted living, or a nursing home. But Medicaid will only help if your assets are under particular income and asset limits. It can be confusing to understand which assets are included and excluded. An elder law attorney cannot only explain the rules, but also know legal ways to help protect assets in certain circumstances.
Guardianship or Conservatorship
A guardianship is when someone is appointed to make financial and legal decisions for an individual who the court decides no longer has the mental capacity to understand their options and responsibilities. In a conservatorship, the appointed person is limited to only making decisions about financial matters.
Elder law attorneys often assist with the guardian or conservator process if a family member can no longer make responsible and informed decisions regarding their health, living, and financial affairs, and no other provisions have been established.
Guardianships are usually the last resort. They can be costly, require court involvement, and the court could appoint a stranger to oversee your affairs if a responsible family or friend cannot be found. A properly drafted estate or long-term care plan can help avoid guardianship and conservatorship, as the estate planning documents make sure there are proper agents named to handle financial and medical decisions if you or a loved one can no longer make those decisions.
Working with an elder care attorney before you need one is smart. Starting the conversation early can help you and your loved ones legally prepare, as well as, emotionally and financially. Call our experienced estate planning lawyers at Mortellaro Law today: 813-551-0923 to find out how we can help.